The New CPS (Current Population Survey) Reports on Poverty, Income and the Uninsured

The New CPS (Current Population Survey) Reports on Poverty, Income and the Uninsured



The uninsured rate for the nation as a whole fell 5.8% from 14.5% uninsured to 8.6% uninsured between 2013 and 2017 due to the Affordable Care Act.


·      California’s uninsured rate fell by 10% from 17.2% to 7.3% uninsured. 

·      Kentucky fell by 8.9% from 14.3% to 5.1% uninsured.

·      Nevada fell by 9.4% from 20.7% to 11.2% uninsured.

·      New Mexico fell by 9.5% from 18.6% to 9.1% uninsured.

·      Texas fell by 4.8% from 22.1% to 17.3% uninsured. Texas did not expand Medicaid; otherwise it would have easily exceeded California’s success.

·      Massachusetts fell 1% from 3.7% to 2.8% uninsured.  Massachusetts had adopted RomneyCare in 2006, the precursor of and model for the Affordable Care Act. 


Of California’s remaining uninsured 60% are undocumented who were not eligible under the Affordable Care Act for either full scope MediCal or premium assistance through Covered California. 30% are eligible for Covered California either with premium assistance or with no federal premium assistance. 10% are eligible for Medi-Cal but may be unaware of their eligibility, uninterested or fearful of impacts on their efforts to become US citizens.


California could increase coverage for its remaining uninsured by beefing up premium assistance in Covered California, building on employment based coverage and expanding Medi-Cal.


Median incomes rose for the third year in a row by 1.8%. However, not all groups benefited equally from the rising economy.

·      Hispanic incomes rose the fastest, then non-Hispanic whites. African American and Asian American incomes were stagnant. Asians had the highest median incomes.

·      Male earnings increased 3% while female earnings were stagnant.

·      Real incomes were highest and increased the fastest in the West.

·      Median incomes increased 2.2% in metropolitan areas and were stagnant in rural regions.

·      Income inequality neither increased nor decreased.

·      Earnings inequality between men and women stayed the same – women earn 80% of what men earn.


Poverty rates fell in 2017 for the third year in a row from 14.8% in 2014 to 12.7% in 2017,

·      The nation’s poverty rates have fallen from about 22% in 1959 to 12.7% in 2017. Most of that drop occurred in the 60’s and early 70’s. Since 1975, poverty rates have fluctuated with economic growth and recessions, but not experienced over all declines.

·      The aged have the lowest poverty rates (9.2%) and children have the highest poverty rates (about 17.5%). The aged went from 35% in poverty in 1959 to 9% in 2017.

·      Asians had a lower poverty rate (10%) while African Americans are at 22%. Non-Hispanic whites are at 8.9%.

·      Poverty rates were highest in the South at 13.6% and lowest in the East and Midwest (11.4%). The poverty rates in the West fell while all other regions were stagnant.


California’s poverty rates are high on both an adjusted and unadjusted basis. The adjusted basis adjusts for the state’s extremely high housing and shelter costs. Using this measure, California’s poverty rate in 2017 is 19% -- a decline of 1.4% from 2016, but still the highest in the nation. Using the unadjusted data from the American Community Survey (ACS), California’s poverty rate in 2017 was a good bit lower — 13.3%, but varied widely by ethnicity.

·      Hispanic poverty rate was 17.4%

·      Non Hispanic white poverty rate was 9%

·      African American poverty rate was 20.9%

·      Asian American poverty rate was 10.3%.   


Los Angeles County’s poverty rate was 14.9%

·      Hispanic poverty rate was 17.8%

·      Non Hispanic white poverty rate was 9.4%

·      African American poverty rate was 20.4%

·      Asian American poverty rate was 11.6%.   

Social safety net programs played a large role in alleviating poverty; their impacts were largest in the Central Valley, Inland Empire and Northern rural regions where incomes were lowest.

Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin

Dated: 9/14/18


Fascinating Findings of Paul Hsu and Colleagues in the September 2018 Issue of Health Affairs

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