Earlier this morning, the United States Census Bureau released its annual Income and Poverty reports, as well as that of Health Insurance Coverage. Both reports capture one-year population estimates for 2014.
Some of the key findings include:
- the national official poverty rate remained flat at nearly 15%, indicating that nearly 47 million people were in poverty in 2014.
- median personal income was $54.6 thousand in 2014, verifying that earnings remained relatively flat for the third consecutive year but most positively;
- the number of those without health insurance rate was 10.4%, nearly 3% lower than 2013 estimates. This means that the number of uninsured nationally has decreased to 33 million compared to 47 million in 2010.
The improved health care rates are largely due to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the most significant reform in the United States health care system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
While we are awaiting 2014 state-level results on income and poverty, the news on health coverage is also encouraging for California. The number of uninsured people in the state was 12.4% in 2014 compared to 17.2% in 2013 and 18.5% in 2010.
United Ways of California applauds the Census results on health insurance rates, especially since many United Ways have worked to promote health coverage through local outreach and enrollment efforts thanks to our partnership with Covered California, the state's health benefit exchange.
Despite the encouraging news on health care, we expect the state numbers on poverty and median household income to also remain flat once the data results are fully released by the U.S. Census later this year. However, we do have current data points on poverty and financial well being thanks to Struggling to Get By: The Real Cost Measure in California 2015, our new financial stability report which captures the real cost of living in California communities. In it, we find 31% of California households do not earn enough income to meet life's basic needs, including the cost of housing, child care, health care, transportation and more. In addition to regional and county-level data, Struggling to Get By also includes the real cost of living in neighborhoods through public use microdata areas. (Check out our interactive maps).
In the coming weeks, United Ways throughout California will be hosting various presentations and community conversations on our report to help address ongoing financial stability challenges facing low-income families throughout the state. (Tentative talks include the Inland Empire, San Luis Obispo, Sacramento and Los Angeles). We hope you can join us for these important conversations.