Child Poverty Rate Doubles as Pandemic-Era Supports End

The U.S. Census Bureau released two annual reports, Poverty in the United States: 2022 and Income in the United States: 2022, on September 12. The official poverty rate in 2022 was 11.5%, relatively unchanged from 2021. However, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which takes into account noncash benefits from anti-poverty programs and tax credits and removes from income certain necessary expenses, shows a very different picture. The SPM poverty rate increased from 7.8% to 12.4% between 2021 and 2022, making it the highest rate since 2018. The SPM rate more than doubled for children – from 5.2% to 12.4% – driven partly by the expiration of the pandemic-era expanded refundable tax credit and stimulus payments.

Based on the SPM, children under the age of 18 saw a greater increase in poverty rates than adults. The poverty rate for adults aged 18 to 64 increased from 7.9% to 11.9%, while the rate increased for seniors from 10.7% to 14.1%. Seniors have the highest poverty rate.

The SPM indicates the impact of certain government benefits on individual poverty. Housing subsidies lifted 2.6 million people out of poverty in 2022. Social Security had the biggest impact, lifting 28.9 million people out of poverty, many of whom were seniors. Refundable tax credits lifted 6.4 million people out of poverty in 2022. In comparison, refundable tax credits and economic stimulus payments lifted 9.6 million and 8.9 million people out of poverty in 2021, respectively.

Real median household income decreased by 2.3% to $74,580 between 2021 and 2022. Income inequality declined by 1.2%, representing the first decline in income inequality since 2007. This decrease in inequality was the result of declines in real income at the middle and top of the income distribution. Household incomes at the 40th through 70th percentiles declined by more than 2%, and incomes at the 80th and higher percentiles declined by more than 4%. Meanwhile, income changes at the 10th, 20th, and 30th percentiles were not statistically significant.

Racial disparities are significant in both income and poverty. Black households have the lowest median household income, at $52,860, following by Hispanic ($62,800), non-Hispanic White ($81,060), and Asian ($108,700) households. The SPM poverty rate was highest for American Indians and Alaska Natives (23.2%), followed by Hispanics (19.3%) and Blacks (17.2%). The poverty rate was 11.6% for Asians and 9.1% for white, non-Latinos.

Poverty in the United States: 2022 can be found at:

Income in the United States: 2022 can be found at: