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Overview

Our Mission

The Center for Poverty Research at UC Davis is one of three federally designated centers whose mission is to facilitate non-partisan academic research on poverty in the U.S., disseminate this research, and train the next generation of poverty scholars.  Our research agenda includes four themed areas of focus: labor markets and poverty, children and intergenerational transmission of poverty, the non-traditional safety net, and immigration.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

What is the history of the minimum wage?
Background from official sources

 

A minimum wage is the lowest wage that employers may legally pay to workers.  The first minimum wage law was enacted in 1894 in New Zealand.

With the passage of The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), the U.S. minimum wage was initially set at $0.25 per hour for covered workers.  Since then, it has been raised 22 separate times–most recently, in July 2009, to $7.25 an hour.

FAQ

How is poverty related to access to care and preventive healthcare?
Data from the Centers for Disease Control

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention produce data on health and healthcare in the United States.  Health, United States includes a variety of tables with breakdowns by poverty status.

FAQ

What do we know about hunger and poverty?
Data from the CPS Food Security Supplement

 

The U.S.D.A.’s Economic Research Service monitors the extent and severity of food insecurity in U.S. households through a supplement to the Current Population Survey. Responses to a series of 18 questions are used to determine whether a household is food insecure.

FAQ

What do we know about poverty spells?
Research from the Center for Poverty Research and the Census Bureau

 

The official poverty statistics do not track individuals or households over time so there are no official data on poverty spells.

Despite the lack of official data, other surveys do provide the ability to track poverty status over time. Two recent studies have used differing data sources and methods to provide some insight into the characteristics of poverty spells.

Census Bureau Study

The Census Bureau has used monthly data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to look at poverty entry and exit in the period 2009-2012. 

FAQ

What are the characteristics of minimum wage workers?
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

In 2013, 75.9 million workers (or 59% of all wage and salary workers) in the United States age 16 and over were paid hourly wages. Among those 1.5 million workers earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Another 1.8 million had wages below the federal minimum.  Together these workers make up 4% of all hourly paid workers.

FAQ

How is poverty status related to disability?
Official data breakdown

 

In 2012, the overall poverty rate was 14.5%.  Poverty rates by disability status* in the United States ranged from 12% to 29%.

FAQ

What do we know about the geographic concentration of poverty?
Estimates from the American Community Survey

 

In 2010, 15% of people lived in poverty.  Poverty is not evenly distributed across neighborhoods and every state has neighborhoods with higher than average poverty rates. 

FAQ

Who are the working poor?
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The majority of the people who live below the poverty level do not work. 

In 2012, 46.5 million people were poor.  According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10.6 million or 23% of the poor were “working poor.” 

FAQ

What do we know about poverty and shared households?
Estimates from the American Community Survey

 

In 2011, almost 1 in 5 households included an “additional adult” — someone who was not the householder, the householder’s spouse or cohabiting partner. 

FAQ

How do race and Hispanic origin relate to poverty?
Official data for specific groups

 

In 2013, the overall poverty rate in the United States was 14.5%.  The rates for racial and ethnic subgroups ranged from 10% to 27%.

FAQ

How does family structure relate to poverty?
Official data breakdown

 

In 2013, the overall poverty rate was 14.5%.  Approximately 11% of all families in the United States were in poverty.  Poverty rates by type of family ranged from 6% to 31%.

FAQ

How does geography relate to poverty?
Official data for region and residence

 

In 2013, the nation’s official poverty rate was 14.5%.  The poverty rates by geographic region ranged from 13% to 16%.

FAQ

How does nativity relate to poverty status?
Official data on foreign- and native-born

 

In 2013, the nation’s official poverty rate was 14.5%.  Poverty rates by nativity ranged from 14% to 18%.

FAQ

How does gender relate to poverty status?
Official data breakdown

 

In 2013, the overall poverty rate in the United States was 14.5%.  Poverty rates by gender ranged from 13% to 16%.

FAQ

What are poverty rates among working adults?
Official data by work experience

 

The Census Bureau reports poverty rates by work experience for people ages 18 to 64.  In 2013, the overall poverty rate for people ages 18 to 64 was 14%. 

FAQ

What are the annual earnings for a full-time minimum wage worker?
Basic calculations

Since it was first instituted in 1938, the federal minimum wage has established a floor for wages. While not every worker is eligible, it provides a minimum of earnings for the lowest-paid workers. 

FAQ

How is poverty status related to age?
Official data for age groups

 

In 2013, the nation’s official poverty rate was 14.5%.  The poverty rates by age groups ranged from 10% to 20%.

FAQ

How is poverty measured in the United States?
Thresholds, guidelines and other estimates

 

There are two official measures of poverty: poverty guidelines and poverty thresholds.  Both of these measures are intended to identify the level of income necessary to meet basic needs and are updated annually.

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