Family of Four on $11K a Year: 19 Million Americans Live On That

Update, 4/16/15: A friend points out that this post misrepresents what’s reported in the linked Census data table. From the Census definitions (PDF), emphasis mine:

Receipts from the following sources are not included as income: capital gains, money received from the sale of property (unless the recipient was engaged in the business of selling such property); the value of income “in kind” from food stamps, public housing subsidies, medical care, employer contributions for individuals, etc.; withdrawal of bank deposits; money borrowed; tax refunds; exchange of money between relatives living in the same household; gifts and lump-sum inheritances, insurance payments, and other types of lump-sum receipts.

So you should either increase the $11K a year in the headline by some amount, or reduce the 19 million.

Even better, it would be great to see a similar calculation based on the Census’s Supplementary Poverty Measure, “a more complex statistic incorporating additional items such as tax payments and work expenses in its family resource estimates.” It also includes in-kind “income.” Matt Bruenig provides about the best explanations and discussions of this measure that I’ve seen over the years.



All Time Record Level of Severe Poverty | Angry Bear.

19 million people in the USA live in households with income less than half the poverty line (severe poverty implies income significantly less than $ 11,000 yr for a family of four)

6.3% of the population.

Figures for 2009, they include all public assistance and transfers in addition to market income.

This is before taxes. Now if your household is making $11K you not paying income tax, but you’re definitely paying payroll tax and sales tax.

But if these people were contributing something of value to our great economic muscle machine, they’d be rewarded, wouldn’t they? Must be laziness.



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One response to “Family of Four on $11K a Year: 19 Million Americans Live On That”

  1. Iyer Avatar

    Sad figures. A society that does not care of its poor and meek is ….

    When agriculture jobs were lost due to productivity, people moved to manufacturing.. now that manufacturing jobs are gone (productivity and offshoring).. what can the bottom rung do?