New Data Shows Poverty Rates Lower in 23 States in 2015

An Examination of Changes Across Economic Characteristics and Metropolitan Statistical Areas

By Brian Glassman, Poverty Statistics Branch

The official poverty rate for the United States declined in 2015 to 13.5 percent from a rate of 14.8 percent in 2014. However, this decrease in poverty was not uniform across states or Metropolitan Statistical Areas when looking at data from the American Community Survey — another key data source for examining poverty at state and local levels. In fact, poverty rates decreased in 23 states and did not increase in any state in 2015, as shown in Figure 1. However, poverty rates in 27 states and Washington, D.C., were statistically unchanged.


Many factors contribute to a change in a state’s poverty rate. Figure 2 shows several possibly related economic factors that give a broader sense of the economic changes happening within states. From 2014 to 2015, unemployment rates decreased and median household income increased in each of the 23 states where poverty decreased. For the 27 states and Washington, D.C., that had no change in poverty in 2015, unemployment decreased in 14 states and Washington, D.C., and median income increased in 16 states and Washington, D.C.

Estimates of households with income under $10,000 and households receiving food stamp/SNAP benefits are two other conditions potentially related to poverty status. In 2015, there were 12 states where both poverty rates and the percentage of households with food stamp/SNAP benefits decreased. In 11 states, the poverty rates did not decrease but the percentage of households receiving food stamp/SNAP benefits fell.

There were 16 states where poverty rates fell and the percentage of households with income less than $10,000 also fell. However, in three states and Washington, D.C., the percentage of households with income less than $10,000 fell without a drop in the poverty rate. To see changes from 2014 to 2015 in poverty rates, unemployment rates, median income, food stamp/SNAP participation and percentage of households with income below $10,000 for each state, visit <>.


Just as Figure 1 showed that changes in poverty were not uniform across states, Figure 3 shows that changes were not uniform across metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), even for those MSAs in a state that experienced a decline in poverty. Between 2014 and 2015, out of a total of 380 MSAs, poverty rates decreased in 63 and increased in 14. The Washington, D.C., MSA is not included in this analysis.

Figure 3 separates MSAs into two categories: (1) those in the 23 states that experienced a decrease in poverty rates from 2014 to 2015 and (2) those in the 27 states that experienced no change in poverty rates. If an MSA crosses state borders, it is assigned to the state where the majority of its population resides.

The key thing to note from Figure 3 is that a decline in the state poverty rate may not be shared by all MSAs in the state. Poverty rates increased in some MSAs located in states in which poverty rates decreased (this includes Asheville, N.C.; Redding, Calif.; Hinesville, Ga.; Sebring, Fla.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Killeen-Temple, Texas; and Lubbock, Texas). Similarly, even in states that experienced no significant change in state poverty rates, some MSA poverty rates did change.


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Made in the USA and Measured by the Census Bureau

Written by: Robert Bernstein, International Trade Management Division

For more than 200 years — since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in America — the U.S. Census Bureau has described the state of America’s manufacturing. It all began as part of the 1810 Census, when U.S. Marshals collecting the population data also asked the first questions on manufacturing establishments. U.S. manufacturing has changed since then, when the landscape was dotted with textile mills. Later this week, the nation will celebrate this evolution with its annual observance of Manufacturing Day, when manufacturers across the country open their doors to showcase their modern manufacturing to America to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.

Since that first economic census in 1810, the Census Bureau has evolved its measurement of manufacturers. A wide range of data products give users a detailed look at the nation’s manufacturing industries. These products differ in geographic coverage, industry detail, how frequently they are released and what is included. Our most recent statistics, from the Annual Survey of Manufactures, show that U.S. manufacturers employed 11.0 million people and generated receipts of $5.9 trillion in 2014.

The most frequently published Census Bureau manufacturing statistics are the monthly full and advance reports on manufacturers’ shipments, inventories and orders, and manufacturing and trade inventory and sales. As economic indicators, these datasets have the potential to move financial markets. Economists and other analysts rely on the indicators to measure the current health of manufacturing and predict future business trends.

Our most geographically detailed data source, the economic census, is conducted every five years and provides data for years ending in 2 and 7. It includes statistics on the number of establishments, employees and value of shipments for cities and towns as small as 2,500 people, covering detailed industries down to the 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) level. It includes statistics for states, counties, metro areas and more than 5,000 communities nationwide.

The economic census thus enables you to examine long-term manufacturing trends in communities across the country. For example, in Palo Alto, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, you’ll see that the number of computer and electronic product manufacturing plants with at least one employee rose from 19 in 2007 to 22 in 2012. Employment climbed from 5,440 in 2007 to 6,158 in 2012. Their value of shipments totaled $2.7 billion in 2012.

If you’re looking for statistics that are timely but still local, then try the annual County Business Patterns series for numbers on establishments and employees. You won’t find data for places such as Palo Alto, but you will find them for Santa Clara County, Calif., where Palo Alto is located. Industry detail is also provided down to the 6-digit NAICS level. In 2014, the county was home to 2,306 employer manufacturing establishments, employing 85,253 people, including nearly 300 establishments that made semiconductors and other electronic components.

Our statistics show that manufacturers can be found in every corner of America, including perhaps the nation’s best-known ZIP code, (Beverly Hills) 90210, which according to a related dataset (ZIP Code Business Patterns), had 22 manufacturing establishments in 2014.

You may be surprised to learn that there are more manufacturers without employees than with them. Indeed, some manufacturing businesses are operated from home, such as those that produce handbags, awnings and wood screen doors. Another dataset, Nonemployer Statistics, reveals that there were more than 350,000 manufacturing establishments without any employees in 2014. By comparison, there were only 292,543 employer establishments in manufacturing, according to County Business Patterns.

Another key component of the Census Bureau’s manufacturing statistics program is the Annual Survey of Manufactures. This survey provides key measures of manufacturing activity for the nation and each state in non-economic census years. Statistics are available for not only employment and receipts, but also topics such as fringe benefits, employer’s cost for health insurance, cost of materials, total inventories and operating expenses.

What really sets the Annual Survey of Manufactures apart from other datasets, though, is that it also offers statistics on the production of specific manufactured goods. Through this survey, you can track how consumer habits are changing by tracing the production of certain goods through the years. The survey shows, for instance, that the value of shipments for yogurt (excluding frozen yogurt) rose from $2.5 billion in 2004 to $6.2 billion in 2014.

Another data source, the Business Dynamics Statistics examines establishment births and deaths each year. The Survey of Business Owners, a part of the economic census, and its annual counterpart, the new Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, examine the demographics of people who own manufacturing businesses.

The 2014 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs showed, for instance, that 26,607 manufacturing firms with employees, or 10.6 percent, were minority-owned.

Not only does Census Bureau data give you a picture of America’s manufacturing but it can also paint a picture of the workers in those industries. According to the American Community Survey, for example, in 2014, 28.8 percent of these workers were women.

The types of information we gather from America’s manufacturers includes much more: their exports, e-commerce shipments, R &D (research and development) and innovation, capital expenditures, plant capacity utilization, finances, job creation and worker turnover, organizational practices, pollution abatement costs, and energy consumption.

For a complete list and more details on the sources of manufacturing data from the Census Bureau, visit our manufacturing home page.

Happy Manufacturing Day!

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Industry Classifications Reflect Changing Economy

By Robert Bernstein, Economy-Wide Statistics Division

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Economic Census has been the official measure of our nation’s businesses and economy since 1810.

The economy changes over time. Recorded music was once primarily on vinyl records. Soon there were 8-track tapes. Those were replaced by cassette tapes and eventually CDs and then downloads. Typewriters were replaced by computer printers and tablets.

Times change and fortunately, we have a system in place that enables us to accurately portray the nation’s rapidly evolving economy in our country’s official statistics. This system is known as NAICS, or the North American Industry Classification System.

The U.S., Canada and Mexico developed NAICS cooperatively in 1997 as the standard for use by federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the collection, tabulation, analysis and presentation of data describing our economy. It replaced the old Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) System. All of our economic census and survey tabulations are categorized using NAICS, which uses a hierarchical structure to classify establishments from the broadest level to the most detailed level.

NAICS codes divide the economy into 20 broad sectors, such as manufacturing, which in turn are separated into 3-digit subsectors (for example, paper manufacturing), which are then divided into 4-digit industry groups (such as pulp, paper and paperboard mills). These industry groups are further subdivided into 5-digit industries (such as paper mills), and then finally into 6-digit industries (like newsprint mills), the most granular level of detail.

The federal interagency Economic Classification Policy Committee, chaired by the U.S. Census Bureau, reviews and revises NAICS every five years. This review takes place prior to the 5—year economic census so that the industries shown in the economic census data accurately reflect the structure of our rapidly changing economy. The updated NAICS categories are then incorporated across other federal surveys..

After soliciting and considering proposals for revisions from the public, the Economic Classification Policy Committee submits recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget, which makes the ultimate decision on changes.

As a result of the review, the committee reduced the total number of 6-digit industries from 1,175 to 1,065. In spite of this net decrease, the committee also added several new and emerging industries, most notably in the utilities sector. Specifically, to reflect the increasing prevalence of businesses that convert renewable energy, the committee split the broad “Other Electric Power Generation” industry (NAICS 221119) into five separate, more specific industries: solar (NAICS 221114), wind (NAICS 221115), geothermal (NAICS 221116), biomass (NAICS 221117), and other electric power generation (NAICS 221118), which includes tidal power. (Hydroelectric power generation is also a renewable energy industry, but its classification remained unchanged between 2007 and 2012.)

In 2007, prior to these revisions, other electric power generation accounted for 16.1 percent of all electric power generation establishments. In 2012, as a result of these revisions, other electric power generation had been reduced to 0.7 percent of electric power generation establishments, with solar comprising 5.1 percent, wind 15.3 percent, geothermal 1.7 percent and biomass 4.0 percent.


Other revisions to NAICS involve merging some industries into new, broader industries. Such was commonly the case in the manufacturing sector.. For example, “electric housewares and household fan manufacturing” and “household vacuum cleaner manufacturing” were merged into the “small electrical appliance manufacturing” industry (NAICS 335210). In another case, four industries ─ “pen and mechanical pencil manufacturing,” “lead pencil and art good manufacturing,” “marking device manufacturing,” and “carbon paper and inked ribbon manufacturing,” were combined into “office supplies (except paper) manufacturing” (NAICS 339940).

Reflecting the decline of smaller, specialized stores and the rise of “big box stores,” “radio, television, and other electronics stores;” “computer and software stores;” “camera and photographic supplies stores;” and “prerecorded tape, compact disc, and record stores” were merged into the broad “electronics stores” industry (NAICS 443142). The four now-defunct industries had 27,435; 10,428; 1,988; and 4,153 stores, respectively, in 2007. There were 40,521 electronics stores in 2012.

Our economic census “Bridge Report” details all these changes by presenting 2012 data for these industries whose NAICS classification changed between 2007 and 2012. A related data set, the “Comparative Statistics Report,” converts the 2012 data into 2007 NAICS codes to permit “apples to apples” comparisons with the 2007 data.

Looking ahead, the Economic Classification Policy Committee has already made recommendations for changes to NAICS for the 2017 Economic Census, which the Office of Management and Budget  finalized in August. As in 2012, in some cases, broader industries will be split into multiple new industries. In other cases, several declining industries will be collapsed into one or eliminated and scattered among multiple industries.

For instance, the current crude petroleum and natural gas extraction industry will be split into two new, separate industries for crude oil extraction and natural gas extraction to more clearly reflect the growth in gas extraction. On the other hand, four manufacturing industries ─ “household cooking appliance,” “household refrigerator and home freezer,” “household laundry equipment” and “other major household appliance” ─ would be combined into a broader “major household appliance manufacturing” industry. Another industry ─ “discount department stores” ─ would disappear, with stores that were categorized in this industry and having insignificant perishable grocery sales being moved into the “department stores” industry, and those with significant perishable grocery sales being placed in the “warehouse clubs and supercenters” industry.   These changes will be rolled out as the Census Bureau begins to collect 2017 Economic Census data next year, with the new data scheduled to be published beginning in 2018.

As America’s economy continues to grow more diverse and complex, NAICS will be revised accordingly to help ensure Census Bureau data reflect our ever-changing U.S. economy.

The Economic Census is conducted every five years: in those ending with a “2” or “7.” The recent publication of a series of reports on mining concludes the release of findings from the 2012 Economic Census.

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Two Views of the Changes in Health Insurance Rates From 2008 to 2015

Written by: Jennifer Cheeseman Day and Edward Berchick

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau is releasing a tool to look at the history of health insurance coverage in the United States: an animated map showing changes in uninsured rates by state, going back to 2008. The shift in health insurance coverage rates begins slowly, with little change occurring from 2008 to 2013. Then in 2014, we see the colors for many states lighten on the map as uninsured rates dropped across the nation, when many provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect. Rates fell again in 2015, leaving only Texas and Alaska in the darkest shade of blue.

The map is effective in showing the sudden, widespread change in the uninsured rates, as well as regional differences in health insurance coverage. But maps like this one, which put states into broad groups to illustrate more general patterns, can show only approximate values. Can we learn anything by taking a more detailed view?

This dot plot displays the same dataset as the animated map, but with the states listed by their uninsured rates in 2015. On the right, dots for prior years cluster together, representing the fairly small movements in uninsured rates that occurred from 2008 to 2013. Then, in 2014, we see a shift for all states to lower uninsured rates (represented by the leftward movement of dots), followed by a further shift in 2015. It reflects the same pattern of sudden change as in the animated map. But we can now see that all states, including Texas and Alaska, experienced gains in health insurance coverage rates. We can also see that states that expanded Medicaid eligibility as part of the Affordable Care Act tended to experience larger decreases in their uninsured rates  than did nonexpansion states. As shown in the figure, many Medicaid expansion states have uninsured rates close to or better than the national average, with few listed below it. States that did not expand Medicaid eligibility more often appear lower on the figure.

Population without health insurance coverage by state

This is an example of how we can uncover additional findings when we take multiple views of a dataset.

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2014 to 2015 Median Household Income is Largest Percentage Increase Since 1998

Written by: Jonathan Rothbaum, Chief, Income Statistics Branch

Estimates released today from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) show real median household income in 2015 was $56,516, a 5.2 percent increase from the 2014 median in real terms. This is the largest year-to-year increase since 1997 to 1998, when median household income increased 3.7 percent — making this the largest increase over the past 17 years.



Median household income in 2015 increased for many different demographic groups, including for Hispanic (6.1 percent), non-Hispanic white (4.4 percent) and black (4.1 percent) households. Although median income is highest in Asian households, their median was not statistically different between 2014 and 2015. Note that the increases (6.1 percent, 4.4 percent and 4.1 percent) are not statistically different from each other.

Households across the country experienced growth in median household income, with an increase of 6.4 percent in the West, 5.1 percent in the Midwest, 4.9 percent in the Northeast and 2.9 percent in the South. Note that when comparing these increases across regions, only the median income growth in the West is greater than in the South. The differences between the increases of the remaining regions were not statistically different.

Further, the increase was experienced by householders in nearly all age groups. By age of householder, the median household income increased for:

  • 25- to 34-year-olds (5.6 percent).
  • 35- to 44-year-olds (7.0 percent).
  • 45- to 54-year-olds (4.2 percent).
  • 55- to 64-year-olds (3.5 percent).
  • Ages 65 and older (4.3 percent).

Note that the percent increases for each age group were not statistically different from each other.

Other groups that experienced increases in median household income include both native- and foreign-born, both men and women who work full time and year-round, and households in metropolitan statistical areas.

You can find out more about this increase in median household income by visiting <> to explore income and poverty data for 2015 as well as previous years.

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