About 23 million persons were below the low-income level in 1973 comprising 11 percent of the United States population, according to the results of the Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted in March 1974 by the Bureau of the Census. This figure is 1.5 million or 6.1 percent below the 1972 figure. There were about 4.8 million families and 4.7 million unrelated individuals (persons living alone or with nonrelatives) below the low-income level in 1973. Both of these figures were below the 1972 levels.
In 1973, the low-income or poverty threshold—the income level which separates "poor" from "nonpoor"—was $4,540 for a nonfarm family of four; it was $4,275 in 1972, and $2,973 in 1959, the first year for which data on the low-income population are available.1 These thresholds are updated every year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
1 See page 2 for a more detailed explanation of the low-income definition.
Census statistics date back to 1790 and reflect the growth and change of the United States. Past census reports contain some terms that today’s readers may consider obsolete and inappropriate. As part of our goal to be open and transparent with the public, we are improving access to all Census Bureau original publications and statistics, which serve as a guide to the nation's history.