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.

WE DON'T KNOW

What's going to happen next as the headlines grow crazier and more disconcerting by the day. But we do know the job of an independent, unrelenting press is more important than ever—and the ongoing commitment of MoJo readers to fight for a democracy where facts matter and all can participate is absolutely vital.

If you feel the urgency deep in your bones like we do, please consider signing up as a monthly donor during our fall pledge drive to support Mother Jones' fair and fearless reporting for the long haul (or make a one-time gift if that works better for you). The headlines may fade, but the need to investigate the powerful never will.