research study in this object area focuses on the economic, social, spatial, temporal, and demographic determinants that affect the poverty status of rural residents. (Food and nutrition help topics are covered in depth somewhere else on the website.)

Subtopics include:

In addition to this topic page, provides annual statistics in its County-level Datasets: Poverty, and State-level (rural/urban) summaries in its State truth Sheets. A summary of countryside poverty and also income object (among various other rural issues) is uncovered in the Rural America in ~ a Glance series, i beg your pardon is updated yearly in the fall. Watch the recent report in the series:

Poverty end Time

According to the U.S. Census Bureau"s yearly Social and Economic supplement to the Current population Survey (CPS) data estimates, the greater incidence the nonmetro poverty relative to metro poverty has existed due to the fact that the 1960s as soon as poverty rates were an initial officially recorded. Over time, the difference in between nonmetro and also metro poverty rates has usually narrowed, falling native an average difference of 4.5 percentage points in the 1980s to an average void of around 3.1 percentage points over the last 10 years. 

According come the many recent approximates from the 2019 American ar Survey (ACS), the nonmetro poverty price was 15.4 percent in 2019, contrasted with 11.9 percent for subway areas. Nonmetro poverty fell 3.0 percent points indigenous 2013, once it got to its 30-year top of 18.4 percent. Metro poverty rates decreased at a greater rate between 2013 and 2019, causing an increase in the metro-nonmetro poverty rate gap, which to be 3.5 percent points in 2019. Check out A Note around Data Sources and What is the influence of Methodology? for more explanation the ACS and CPS poverty estimate differences.

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Note: due to the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic ~ above the American ar Survey, the Census bureau did no release official ACS 1-year approximates for 2020, which to be anticipated in September 2021. The Census Bureau has actually indicated the will carry out 2020 ACS 1-year experimental estimates for a limited number the tables and also geographies most likely in November 2021. The affect of the pandemic on the ACS 5-year approximates for 2016-20—tentatively to be released in December 2021—is still being evaluated by the Census Bureau. Since the data source for the remainder of this topic page is the ACS (1-year and also 5-year estimates), is unable to update the content to include 2020 poverty rates at this time. The following update will be determined following testimonial of the ACS 1-year experimental estimates (2020) and also the Census Bureau’s ACS 5-year estimates (2016-20) pandemic impact analysis.

The Current population Survey (CPS) serves as an alternative resource for aggregate nonmetro and metro poverty rates, however CPS and ACS approximates are not directly similar (see differences in between ACS and also CPS reality Sheet). We carry out the adhering to reference come the latest published CPS poor rates.

According come the U.S. Census report, Income and also Poverty in the unified States, 2020:

"Inside MSAs <"metro" areas>, the poverty rate in 2020 to be 11.0 percent, up from 10.0 percent in 2019. The number of people in poverty within MSAs also increased native 28.4 million in 2019 come 31.3 million in 2020. Amongst those living external MSAs <"nonmetro" areas>, 14.1 percent, or 5.9 million, were in poor in 2020. Both the rate and variety of individuals in poverty amongst those living external MSAs were not statistically various from 2019." (The poverty price in nonmetro locations in 2019 to be reported as 13.3 percent (5.6 million people).) The difference in between the nonmetro and also metro poverty rates in 2020 (14.1—11.0 = 3.1 percent points) was statistically different.


Geography the Poverty 

In the unified States, civilization living in poverty often tend to be clustered in details regions, counties, and neighborhoods quite than being spread out evenly throughout the Nation. Research has displayed that the bad living in areas where poor is prevalent challenge impediments past those of their individual circumstances. Focused poverty contributes to bad housing and also health conditions, higher crime and school dropout rates, and also employment dislocations. As a result, economic problems in an extremely poor areas can create restricted opportunities for poor residents that end up being self-perpetuating. The 2015-19 ACS is used below to research poverty in ~ the local and county levels; watch A Note around Data Sources for more information.

While the overall rate of poverty is higher in nonmetro counties than in metro, the difference between nonmetro/metro poverty rates varies significantly across Census regions (see much more on the an ar Definitions questioned here below). The nonmetro/metro poverty rate gap for the South has actually historically to be the largest. In 2015-19, the South had a nonmetro poverty price of 19.7 percent—nearly 6 portion points higher than in the region"s subway areas. Regional poverty rates for nonmetro and metro locations were most alike in the Midwest and also the Northeast in 2015-19.


Nonmetro counties v a high incidence of poverty space mainly focused in the South. Those v the most severe poverty are discovered in poor areas of the Southeast, consisting of the Mississippi Delta and also Appalachia, as well as on aboriginal American lands. Pockets the high poverty space increasingly uncovered in various other regions, such together nonmetro locations of the Southwest and northern sections of the Midwest. Deindustrialization because the 1980s added to the spread of poverty in the Midwest and also the Northeast. One more factor to be rapid growth in Hispanic populaces over the 1990s and also 2000s, an especially in California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, north Carolina, and also Georgia. This team tends to be poorer 보다 non-Hispanic Whites.

In 2019, 21.1 percent of nonmetro youngsters in the United says were poor, contrasted to 16.1 percent of metro children. At the county level, on typical over 2015-19, there were 138 counties in the United says with kid poverty rates of 40 percent or higher. Only eleven of lock were subway counties. The staying 127 were nonmetro counties, mostly in the southern (84.3 percent) v concentrations in Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, and also Texas—where child poverty rates have been pbsci-ch.orgistently high, specifically among the black color or afri American population. However, countless of the nonmetro counties with too much child poverty (38 counties with a kid poverty price of 50 percent or higher) were in the Midwest, every in south Dakota where indigenous Americans comprise the majority of the poor population. The nonmetro counties through the highest child poverty prices were Claiborne County, multiple sclerosis (72.0 percent), east Carroll Parish, LA (66.4 percent), Mellette County, SD (65.7 percent), Todd County, SD (64.0 percent), and Jackson County, SD (62.3 percent).

An important measurement of poor is that pbsci-ch.orgistence over time. An area that has a high level of poverty this year, but not following year, is likely far better off 보다 an area that has a high level of poverty in both years. To burned light top top this facet of poverty, has identified counties as being pbsci-ch.orgistently poor if 20 percent or more of their populations were living in poverty based upon the 1980, 1990, and also 2000 decennial censuses and 2007-11 ACS 5-year approximates (see the ar Typology Codes, 2015 Edition). Utilizing this definition, there space 353 pbsci-ch.orgistently bad counties in the United says (comprising 11.2 percent of all U.S. Counties). The huge majority (301 or 85.3 percent) the the pbsci-ch.orgistent-poverty counties room nonmetro, audit for 15.2 percent of every nonmetro counties. Pbsci-ch.orgistent poverty additionally demonstrates a strong regional pattern, with almost 84 percent the pbsci-ch.orgistent-poverty counties in the South, comprising an ext than 20 percent of every counties in the region. Most of the 301 nonmetro pbsci-ch.orgistent poor counties (267 or 88.7 percent) likewise had high poverty (a price of 20 percent or higher) on median for 2015-19, arguing that the location of nonmetro pbsci-ch.orgistent poor changed little over the last decade. has additionally defined pbsci-ch.orgistent boy poverty counties utilizing a similar methodology; check out the typology ar on Pbsci-ch.orgistent kid Poverty. offers a record listing the pbsci-ch.orgistent-poverty/pbsci-ch.orgistent-child-poverty counties as part of the County Typology Codes data product.

Poverty Demographics

Areas v a high incidence that poverty frequently reflect the low income of their racial/ethnic minorities. Nonmetro Blacks/African Americans had the highest incidence of poverty in 2019 (30.7 percent), while nonmetro American Indians/Alaska Natives had the 2nd highest rate (29.6 percent). The poverty rate for nonmetro white skin - man in 2019 was much less than fifty percent as lot (13.3 percent) the both of those other groups. Nonmetro Hispanics had actually the 3rd highest poverty price of any type of individual race or ethnicity—21.7 percent.


Family type has a significant bearing ~ above poverty. Households headed by two adults are most likely to have much more sources of earnings than single-adult family members with children and are because of this less likely to it is in poor. In 2019, virtually one-third of all nonmetro households headed by a female with no spouse current were bad (32.0 percent) and also the poverty rate for those amongst that group with related youngsters was 10 percent points greater than the total (42.6 percent). In contrast, 5.4 percent of nonmetro married pair families were poor in 2019. Poverty prices by family form also reveal huge metro-nonmetro distinctions for single-adult families. In 2019, the poverty price was an ext than 9 percentage points higher for nonmetro households headed through females (no spouse present) in general, and more than 10 percent points higher for those with related kids than because that the same species of subway families.


Poverty rates also differ by period group. In 2019, the nonmetro/metro difference was biggest for children under the period of 5 (24.0 percent nonmetro and also 17.3 percent metro). Overall child poverty rates (under period 18) to be 21.1 percent in nonmetro areas and also 16.1 percent in subway areas. In contrast, the poverty rates for an elderly adults (age 65 and older) were more similar in ~ 10.3 percent in nonmetro areas and 9.3 percent in subway areas. Similarly, working age adults (age 18-64) had actually much reduced poverty prices (15.0 percent) 보다 did youngsters in nonmetro areas, but greater rates 보다 did working period adults in metro locations (11.0 percent) in 2019.


These rates do not indicate just how long individuals live in poverty. Some households cycle in and out of poverty over time, when space pbsci-ch.orgistently poor. Pbsci-ch.orgistent poverty amongst children is of issue as the cumulative result of being poor may lead to poor health, limited education, and also other an unfavorable outcomes. Also, research says that the much more time a kid spends in poor or life in a high-poverty area, an especially those with concentrations the racial and also ethnic minorities, the higher the opportunity of being poor as one adult. See these publications for an ext on this topic: landscape America at A Glance, 2009 Edition ("Child poverty Pbsci-ch.orgistent and Widespread") and Rural kids At A Glance.

A Note about Data Sources

Official federal poverty statistics come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s yearly Social and also Economic complement (ASEC) to the Current population Survey (CPS). People or households are identified as bad if their annual pretax cash earnings falls below a dissension amount, or poor threshold, that is identified by the Census Bureau each year. For example, one unrelated individual with an annual cash income below $13,011 was identified as poor in 2019. That same pbsci-ch.orgon would have been considered negative in 2018 v an yearly cash income listed below $12,784. Note the poverty thresholds are established for the nation as a whole, and also do not vary by geographic region, city area, or metro/nonmetro location. That is, poverty thresholds do not effort to account for spatial distinctions in the expense of living. (See exactly how Is poor Defined? for much more about definitions and also income thresholds used in determining poverty rates.)

To produce subnational and also subpopulation poverty estimates, the Census Bureau now recommends making use of the American community Survey (ACS), which has actually a much bigger sample size than the CPS. The ACS, however, walk not permit for the same historic pbsci-ch.orgpective together the CPS. Therefore, we begin the ACS series in 2007 and continue to carry out annual CPS poverty prices up come 2012. The two surveys room not straight comparable, though, given that the ACS design native the CPS in a variety of ways and may produce different poverty estimates. Because that example, in 2012 the U.S. Poverty price was approximated to it is in 15.9 percent based upon the ACS, contrasted to 15.0 percent based on the CPS. Poverty estimates for the population living in nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) areas in 2012 to be 18.2 percent because that the ACS and also 17.7 percent for the CPS. The metropolitan (metro) area poverty prices were 15.5 percent (ACS) and also 14.5 percent (CPS). The ACS poverty rates for the most recent year (2018) to be 13.1 percent because that the united States, 16.1 percent nonmetro, and also 12.6 percent metro. Check out the Census Bureau"s truth Sheet: Differences between the American community Survey (ACS) and also the annual Social and also Economic supplement to the Current population Survey (CPS ASEC) and "Poverty and also Deep Poverty boosting in countryside America" (Amber Waves, march 2014) for an ext information.

For regional and county-level analysis, we use a 5-year median of data. The ACS offers a rolling sample that U.S. Housing units (250,000 monthly) to provide basic populace characteristics each year for areas with populaces of at the very least 65,000 people. ACS currently accumulates samples over 5-year intervals to create estimates for areas with smaller sized populations; just the 5-year median ACS provides coverage for every counties in the united States. The 2015-19 ACS is used right here to research poverty at the local and county levels. 

Region Definitions

Definitions the the 4 large Census areas (Northeast, Midwest, West, and also South) are accessible from the Census website. Various other economic/cultural regions disputed in the text are officially characterized by various other Federal entities. The south east is a bureau of Economic analysis economic region. The Mississippi Delta is characterized by the Delta local Authority. Appalachia is defined by the Appalachian regional Commission. "Native American lands" to express to areas defined by the indigenous American preventive System, likewise called Indian soil of Federally known Tribes, and also are figured out by the office of Indian Affairs.

How Is poverty Defined?

In the unified States, being in poverty is officially defined as having an income listed below a federally established poverty threshold. Poor thresholds were emerged in the 1960s and also are changed annually come account because that inflation. They represent the federal Government’s calculation of the allude below i beg your pardon a household of a provided size has cash income insufficient to meet an easy needs. Any family/individual with complete income much less than an amount deemed to be enough to purchase food, shelter, clothing, and also other essential goods and services is classified together poor. Because that details, watch "How the Census Bureau actions Poverty." The lot of income crucial to acquisition these simple needs is collection by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The 2019 poor line was $13,300 for an individual under period 65 and also $12,261 because that those 65 or older. The poverty line for a three-pbsci-ch.orgon family with one child and also two adult was $20,578 in 2019; because that a five-pbsci-ch.orgon household with two adults and also three kids the poverty line was $30,510. Because that a complete list of poor lines by dimension of family and number of children, see the U.S. Census Bureau"s tables of poor Thresholds.) Income includes cash revenue (pretax income and also cash welfare assistance), yet excludes in-kind welfare assistance, such together Supplemental Nutrition aid Program (SNAP) benefits and Medicaid.

Although metro-nonmetro comparisons of poverty rates are useful for determining locations where poverty is concentrated, part measurement concerns are precious bearing in mind. As one example, U.S. Poverty rates perform not make any kind of adjustments for distinctions in price of living across areas. If the expense of purchasing basic needs is lower in nonmetro areas, then the nonmetro poverty price would ovbsci-ch.orgtate the yes, really level the poverty experienced by nonmetro residents. The result of these distinctions can walk in one of two people direction. Because that example, transportation to occupational in nonmetro locations may be much much more expensive 보다 in metro locations where access to publicly transit is greater. Real estate may be less expensive in nonmetro areas than in metro areas, but the top quality of housing may also be reduced with a greater rate that substandard housing units. Similarly, the measure up of poverty does not account for access to various other "public goods" together as health and wellness care, schooling, or interaction networks, or "public bads" such together noise and also air pollution, which additionally differ systematically across metro and also nonmetro areas.

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An alternative to the main poverty measure, i m sorry account for several of the metro-nonmetro to compare issues, is the Supplemental Poverty measure (SPM). The SPM is a more facility statistic incorporating added items such as taxation payments and also work costs in that family source estimates. SPM thresholds are acquired from consumer Expenditure inspection expenditure data ~ above necessities (food, shelter, clothing, and also utilities) and are changed for geographic distinctions in the expense of real estate (there space no adjustments for transportation or other prices that may vary by geographical location). Watch Supplemental Poverty measure up for an ext technical information on SPM. Also, see Final Report of the Interagency technological Working group on Evaluating different Measures of Poverty for historical and comparative discussion of the OPM, SPM, and other alternative poverty measures.