As part of the Bureau's continuing effort to improve the quality and usefulness of its income and poverty data, several important modifications were made in the collection and presentation of data from the March Current Population Survey (CPS). All 1979 income amounts and poverty numbers mentioned in the text are based on the full set of modifications made in the March 1980 CPS. However, all references to changes between 1978 and 1979 are based on statistics derived using comparable procedures for both years. A detailed discussion of the modifications can be found in the section, "Modifications to the March 1980 CPS."
The median income of all families in the United States was $19,680 in 1979, according to results of the Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted in March 1980 by the Bureau of the Census. The 1979 median family income was 12 percent higher than the 1978 median. However, after adjusting for the 11.3 percent increase in prices between 1978 and 1979,1 there was no significant change in real median family income. The survey also indicated that there were about 25.2 million persons below the poverty level in 1979, constituting 11.6 percent of the U.S. population.2 The size of the poverty population did not change significantly from the 1978 level. The poverty threshold for a nonfarm family of four was $7,412 in 1979.
1 The percentage increase in prices between 1978 and 1979 is computed by dividing the annual average Consumer Price Index (CPI) for 1979 by the annual average value of the CPI for 1978.
2 See appendix A for an explanation of the poverty concept.
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.