Poverty is a phenomenon as old as human history, its significance has changed over time. Under traditional (i.e., nonindustrialized) modes of economic production, widespread poverty had been accepted as inevitable. The total output of goods and services, even if equally distributed, would still have been insufficient to give the entire population a comfortable standard of living by prevailing standards. With the economic productivity that resulted from industrialization, however, this ceased to be the case—especially in the world’s most industrialized countries, where national outputs were sufficient to raise the entire population to a comfortable level if the necessary redistribution could be arranged without adversely affecting output.
Cyclical poverty refers to poverty that may be widespread throughout a population, but the occurrence itself is of limited duration.
Collective poverty involves a relatively permanent insufficiency of means to secure basic needs—a condition that may be so general as to describe the average level of life in a society or that may be concentrated in relatively large groups in an otherwise prosperous society. Both generalized and concentrated collective poverty may be transmitted from generation to generation, parents passing their poverty on to their children.
Case poverty refers to the inability of an individual or family to secure basic needs even in social surroundings of general prosperity. This inability is generally related to the lack of some basic attribute that would permit the individual to maintain himself or herself. Such persons may, for example, be blind, physically or emotionally disabled, or chronically ill. Physical and mental handicaps are usually regarded sympathetically, as being beyond the control of the people who suffer from them. Efforts to ameliorate poverty due to physical causes focus on education, sheltered employment, and, if needed, economic maintenance.
The federal poverty level is a measure of income used by the U.S. government to determine who is eligible for subsidies, programs, and benefits.
The Department of Health and Human Services updates the poverty guidelines each January. It raises them to account for inflation.
The 2022 poverty guidelines are in effect as of January 12, 2022.
Federal Register Notice, January 12, 2022 - Full text.
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|2022 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA|
|Persons in family/household||Poverty guideline|
|For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,720 for each additional person.|
Who are the working poor in America? Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Highlights from the 2019 data:
The working-poor rate of people in the labor force for 27 weeks or more was 4.0 percent. This is the lowest rate in the history of the series, which began in 1986. (See chart 1.)
Full-time workers remained much less likely to be among the working poor than part-time workers. Among people in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, 2.7 percent of those usually employed full time were classified as working poor, compared with 9.8 percent of part-time workers. (See table 1.)
Women were more likely than men to be among the working poor (4.5 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively). In addition, Blacks or African Americans and Hispanics or Latinos continued to be much more likely than Whites and Asians to be among the working poor.2 (See table 2.)
The likelihood of being classified as working poor diminishes as workers attain higher levels of education. Among those with less than a high school diploma, 12.8 percent of those who were in the labor force for at least 27 weeks were classified as working poor, compared with 1.4 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree and higher. (See table 3.)
Individuals who were employed in service occupations remained more likely to be among the working poor than those employed in other major occupational groups. (See table 4.)
Among families with at least one member in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, those with children under 18 years old were nearly 5 times as likely as those without children to live in poverty. Families maintained by women were more than twice as likely as families maintained by men to be living below the poverty level. (See table 5.)