Economic Justice Facts & Figures

Starting in the 1930s, relative poverty rates in the US have consistently exceeded those of other wealthy nations.

National Research Council & Institute of Medicine


In 2009 the number of people who were in poverty was approaching the 1960s levels that led to the national “War on Poverty.”

Associated Press


In 2011 extreme poverty in the United States, meaning households living on less than $2 per day before government benefits, was double 1996 levels at 1.5 million households, including close to 3 million children.

National Poverty Center


In 2012 the percentage of seniors living in poverty was 14% while 18% of children were.

US Census Bureau


The addition of Social Security benefits has contributed more to reduce poverty than any other factor.

Washington Post


Recent census data shows that half the population qualifies as poor or low income,with 20% Millennials living in poverty.

CBS & The Guardian


In 2011, child poverty reached record high levels, with 16 million children living in food insecure households.

British Broadcasting Corporation


A 2013 report ranked the U.S. as having the 2nd highest relative child poverty rates in the developed world.

United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund


According to a 2016 study by the Urban Institute, teenagers in low income communities are often forced to join gangs, save school lunches, sell drugs or exchange sexual favors because they cannot afford food.

The Guardian


There are about 643,000 homeless people nationwide. Almost 66% stayed in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program and the other third were living on the street, in an abandoned building, or another place not meant for human habitation. About 1.5 million people, or about .5% of the U.S. population, used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program in the past year. Around 44% of homeless people are employed.

Housing & Urban Development & the National Coalition of the Homeless


In 2016, the International Monetary Fund warned the United States that its high poverty rate needs to be tackled urgently by raising the minimum wage and offering paid maternity leave to women to encourage them to enter the labor force.


In 2015, the federal government guidelines for “poverty” for a family of 3 was, $16.50 per person, per day. “Extreme poverty” was defined at, $8.30 per person, per day (about half of the “poverty” rate).


Since 2011, 4% of the households with children in the US live on less than $2 a day (1.5 million households with 3 million children) This phenomenon has been on the rise since the “welfare reform” legislation was passed in 1996 and more than doubled in last 15 years.

National Poverty Center


U.S income inequality is the highest it’s been since 1928. In 1982, the highest-earning 1% of families received 10% of all pretax income, while the bottom 90% received 64%. The current estimate is that the top 1% received 22% of pretax income, while the bottom 90%’s share had fallen to 49%.

Pew Research Center


The U.S. is more unequal than most of its developed-world peers. After accounting for taxes and transfers, the U.S. ranks 2nd highest level of inequality out of 31 countries, after Chile.

Pew Research Center


The black-white income gap in the U.S. has persisted. The difference in median household incomes between whites and blacks has grown from about $19,000 in 1967 to roughly $27,000 in 2011.

Pew Research Center


Americans are relatively unconcerned about the wide income gap between rich and poor. Americans in the top 20% of the income distribution earn 16 times as much as those in the lowest 20% — by far the widest such gap among the 10 advanced countries. 47% of Americans think the rich-poor gap is a very big problem. Among advanced countries, only Australians expressed a lower level of concern.

Pew Research Center


Wealth inequality is even greater than income inequality. While the highest-earning 20% of U.S. families earned 59% of all income, the richest 20% held 88% of all wealth.

Pew Research Center


The children of high and low income families are born with similar abilities but rapidly diverge in outcomes. By age 4, children in the 20% highest income families score in the 69th percentile on tests of literacy and mathematics, while children in the 20% lowest income score in the 34th and 32nd percentile. Research suggests that these differences arise largely due to factors related to a child’s home environment and family’s socioeconomic status—a combination of income, education, and occupation.

Brookings Institute


Ideally Americans think the top 20% richest people in the country should own 32% of the wealth and the bottom 40% of the population should own 25%.

Americans believe though that the richest 20% own 59% of the wealth and that the bottom 40% own 9%.

The reality however is that the top 20% of US households own more than 84% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% combine for 0.3%. The Walton family, for example, has more wealth than 42% of American families combined.

Scientific American


The average American estimates that the CEO-to-worker pay-ratio is 30-to-1, and that ideally, it would be 7-to-1. The reality is: 354-to-1. 50 years ago, it was 20-to-1.

Scientific American


5% Americans think that inequality is a major problem in need of attention. They believe the economic system unfairly favors the wealthy, but 60% believe that most people can make it if they’re willing to work hard.

Scientific American