More than one in five children under age 18, and almost one in four children under age six, were living in poverty in 2009. The Figure, from EPI’s forthcoming State of Working America Web site, shows how poverty rates for different age groups have changed in recent decades. Widespread job loss during the latest recession, along with reduced hours and slow wage growth, have all contributed to higher rates of poverty.
Individuals are officially considered poor when their family income falls below the poverty threshold. The 2009 poverty threshold throughout most of the United States was an annual income of $14,570 for a family of two and $22,050 for a family of four (thresholds are higher in Alaska and Hawaii). The comparatively low poverty rate among the over-65 population is largely attributable to Social Security, which lifts millions of seniors out of poverty.