39.7 Million People Lived in Poverty in 2017


Reverend David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World

(Washington, DC, Thursday, September 20, 2018) – The federal government has just released its annual hunger and poverty statistics for the United States. While the economy has improved for some, others – especially middle-income and working-class families – are not seeing the same benefits. Millions of families continue to struggle to put food on the table.

  • New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 39.7 million people lived in poverty in 2017, which is not statistically different from 2016. The report, “Income and Poverty in the United States,” reveals that even though the median household income has gone up slightly, it is not increasing for the poorest Americans.
  • With the elections taking place in the coming weeks, Bread for the World is encouraging people to vote for candidates who will make ending hunger and poverty and priority. This includes investing in and protecting key programs that help improve the lives of men, women, and children facing hunger and poverty. It also includes improving job opportunities and wages by investing in the country’s infrastructure, increasing the minimum wage, reducing incarceration rates, and taking on immigration reform.
  • In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—struggled with hunger. In 2007, before the recession, 11.1 percent of American households had a difficult time putting food on the table.
  • The number of households with children struggling with hunger is significantly higher than for households without children (15.7 percent compared to 10.1 percent). Overall, 12.5 million children, 1 in 6, lived in households that experienced hunger in 2017. Children of color are even more likely to suffer from hunger. African American and Latino households with children experience hunger at rates of 26.1 percent and 21.1 percent, respectively.

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