In the figure below, I have tried to show three important facts about the United States’ poverty situation.
1. The overall poverty rate — the top of the purple area — is back over 15%, erasing the gains against poverty made since the mid-1990s. That’s about 46 million people.
2. Five percent of the total population lives in poor families headed by single women — the red area. That is about 16 million people. That also erases most of the gains made since the 1990s.
3. Just over one-third of poor people live in families headed by single women.
The poverty rate among families headed by single mothers — which is not shown here — is very high, of course: 34% overall, 41% among Black families, 45% among Latina families. (Single-father families have a 15.8% poverty rate, unchanged in 2010.)
But poverty in the U.S. is not principally a problem of families headed by single mothers — they make up just a third of the poor population, down from a peak of 39% in the 1990s. And the news for this recession is that they account for only about one-quarter of the increase in poverty since 2006. This recession has increased poverty more in married couple families and people not in families.
The full poverty and income report is here.