American Community Survey Findings Show Poverty Today Is Even Higher than during the Depths of the Great Recession

“Maine’s leaders and policy makers must address the disturbing rise in child poverty”
Augusta, Maine (Thursday, September 19, 2013) The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) and the Maine Children’s Alliance (MeKids) commented on today’s data released from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) providing more in depth analysis of poverty in Maine and across the nation than preliminary findings released on Tuesday. 

“Maine’s leaders and policy makers must address the disturbing rise in child poverty in our state,” said MCA executive director Ned McCann. “More than 1 in 5 Maine children are now living in poverty in Maine; for children under age 5 it is now more than 1 in 4 children under the age of five. Kids do not choose to be born into poverty, and we all have a stake in making sure they are well fed, healthy, safe, and provided opportunity to succeed through a good education.”

“These latest data show no improvement in two key indicators of economic well-being for Mainers,” said MECEP economist Joel Johnson. “The poverty rate continues to rise and is now higher than it was in the depths of the Great Recession. We already know median household income is no higher than it was over twenty years ago, but these data show that the situation is getting worse, not better. Income for the median Maine household in 2012 was lower than it was 2009, when the recession officially ended. Income for the typical Maine family is headed in the wrong direction.”

Although the Census Bureau released the “official” poverty rate for 2012 on Tuesday with the publication of results from the Current Population Survey (CPS), the poverty statistics released today from the ACS are more reliable. The CPS is useful for identifying longer-term trends beginning before 2000, but the ACS samples thirty times as many households as the CPS and therefore is more appropriate for recent year-over-year comparisons at the state level.

Key ACS Data Findings for Maine

•Overall, 14.7% of Mainers (adults and children) live in poverty.

•More than 1 in 5 children (20.9% of children under 18 years of age) live in poverty in Maine and more than 1 in 4 young children (26.9% of children under the age of five) live in poverty.

•These figures are getting worse, not better: poverty rates for children and adults alike are greater than they were just four years ago in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession.

•Maine median household income in 2012 was $46,709, significantly lower than pre-recession levels and significantly lower than in 2008, 2009, and 2010-the immediate aftermath of the recent financial crisis and recession.

To view the ACS findings for Maine, click here.