New York’s Poverty Rate Remains High While the National Poverty Rate Continues to Fall

September 30, 1999. Press release:

The new poverty statistics released today by the United States Census Bureau show that  New York’s poverty rate remained high while the national poverty rate continues to fall. The national poverty rate declined for the fifth consecutive year. This year’s decline was particularly large, from 13.3% to 12.7%. At the same time, however, New York’s poverty rate showed no improvement. Actually New York’s poverty rate increased from 16.5% in 1997 to 16.7% in 1998 but the Census Bureau recommends the use of two-year averages when comparing changes in poverty at the state level to ensure statistically significant comparisons. Using two-year averages New York’s poverty rate has stubbornly stayed at 16.6% for three years.

For the ninth consecutive year, New York’s poverty rate is significantly higher than the poverty rate for the United States as a whole. In 1998 New York’s poverty rate was a full four percentage points higher than the overall United States rate, 16.7% vs. 12.7%.

In 1998 3,068,000 people in New York State lived in poverty. This represents 89,000 more poor New Yorkers than in 1997 when 2,979,000 New Yorkers were classified as living in poverty.

Only six states (New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia and Arizona) had higher poverty rates than New York for the 1997-98 period. All of these were states in the South or Southwest with lower costs of living than New York. State-level poverty rates for 1997-98 ranged from 7.8% in Maryland to 20.8% in New Mexico. New York was the only Northeastern state with a poverty rate in excess of the national poverty rate. In fact four of New York’s neighboring states had poverty rates below 10%: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont. New York’s fifth neighbor, Pennsylvania, had a poverty rate of 11.3%, almost one third less than New York’s.

In 1998 a family of three was considered poor if its income fell below $13,003. The average poverty threshold for a family of four was $16,660. Nationally 34.5 million people were found to have incomes below the poverty threshold in 1998.

New York’s Poverty Rate Remains
Significantly Higher than the U.S. Poverty Rate
Year Percent of Population
Living in Poverty
New York U.S.
1989 12.6% 12.8%
1990 14.3% 13.5%
1991 15.3% 14.2%
1992 15.7% 14.8%
1993 16.4% 15.1%
1994 17.0% 14.5%
1995 16.5% 13.8%
1996 16.7% 13.7%
1997 16.5% 13.3%
1998 16.7% 12.7%