What to look for in the new Census Bureau data
Editor’s note: On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the U.S. Census Bureau will release its annual estimates of poverty, household income and health insurance coverage for 2016. What follows is a description both of trends CHN will be examining from the 2016 data, and questions CHN will be raising about the future of poverty and prosperity in light of budget proposals pending in Congress.
Some experts expect that the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau data will show that middle- and working-class families continued to make modest economic gains during 2016, with possible reductions in poverty rates and an increase in wages, particularly for low-income workers. In addition, while we do not know whether there will be an actual decrease in the rate of uninsured Americans, we do anticipate a continuation of historic trends we saw in 2015 – fewer uninsured Americans than at any previous point in U.S. history.
We will be looking for answers to these specific questions:
- Did poverty continue to decline in 2016? Did the pace of the decline slow?
- Looking back ten years: Has the poverty rate returned to pre-2007 recession numbers?
- How did individual population groups do: children, African Americans, Hispanics? For communities of color, can we show combined progress over time, both in terms of a decline in poverty and an increase in median income?
In addition, we will be examining the effect of policy on poverty, as measured by the Supplemental Policy Measure: what roles did programs such as SNAP, low-income tax credits, Social Security, SSI, housing and LIHEAP have in lifting people out of poverty? In addition: What is the difference in the rate of uninsured Americans in the 31 states (plus D.C.) that accepted the Medicaid expansion vs. the 19 states that did not accept the expansion?
And finally: We will be examining the potential impact of proposed cuts by President Trump and some in Congress on the poverty rate in the U.S. For example: a new analysis by the Center for American Progress finds that in 2015, the last year for which numbers are available, an additional 2.3 million additional Americans would have been in poverty if just three of Trump’s proposed budget cuts had been in effect – cuts to LIHEAP, SNAP and Medicaid. And that is just the tip of the iceberg – the President also has proposed severe cuts to programs that help Americans with disabilities, housing assistance, job training, and funding for disaster and emergency relief – all at a time when he is also proposing large tax reductions for the wealthiest Americans.
And this programming note: Later this fall, look for CHN to come out with detailed reports and analysis regarding poverty, median income, health care and other trends on both the national and state level.