Our Biggest Poverty Problem Is Not the Elderly

New poverty figures for 2017 are out today along with the new income figures, and there are no surprises: the poverty rate decreased 0.4 percentage points, just as you’d expect during an economic expansion. However, it’s worth showing the poverty rate by age, since it seems to be an endless source of misinformation:

Yes, that orange line is correct: ever since 2000, the elderly have had the lowest poverty rate in the nation. That includes the entire period of the Great Recession, and every year since.

Our biggest poverty problem is not among senior citizens. Our biggest poverty problem is, first, among children, and second, among working-age adults.¹ That’s where our attention should be most heavily focused.

¹The Supplemental Poverty Measure tells a somewhat different story, but even the SPM says that poverty is more widespread among children than among the elderly.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

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