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Poverty Dynamics: 2017–2019

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Introduction

This report uses monthly longitudinal data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to examine poverty dynamics over the 2017-2019 period. To examine poverty dynamics over this period, this report provides monthly, annual, episodic, and chronic poverty rates for the overall population and select demographic groups. At the start of the series in January 2017, the monthly poverty rate was 15.5 percent, and it declined 3.5 per­centage points to 12.0 percent by the end of the series in December 2019. The over­all annual poverty rates declined from 13.7 percent in 2017 to 12.4 percent in 2018 to 11.5 percent in 2019. The 2.3-percentage-point drop in annual poverty over the series was smaller than the 3.5-percentage-point drop in monthly poverty.

Overall, 27.1 per­cent of individuals experienced an episodic poverty spell over the period, meaning that their family income was less than their poverty threshold for 2 consecu­tive months. This compared to 3.3 percent of individuals who expe­rienced chronic poverty, meaning that their family income was less than their poverty threshold for all 36 months. Children were more likely to experience both episodic and chronic poverty, with 35.1 percent of children experiencing an episodic poverty spell and 5.5 percent of children in chronic poverty over the period.

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