Our Top Takeaways from the New Census Data

Want to hear CPPP experts break down the latest income, poverty, and health insurance numbers and what they mean for Texans? On September 13, we hosted a Facebook Live discussion to analyze the newest data from the Census Bureau and what it means for Texans. The recording is available here:

This week, the U.S. Census Bureau released data from the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS). The American Community Survey estimates are released annually and allow us to track how Texans fare on measures like income, poverty, education, and healthcare. Here are some of the highlights from the 2017 data.

The median household income in Texas rose to $59,206, meaning that half of Texas households had income above $59,206, and half had income below. Factoring in inflation, 2017 saw a 2.5 percent increase over the Texas median household income in 2016.

But not all Texas families experience gains from economic growth equally. A large wage gap persists by gender for full time, year-round Texas workers, evidenced by the median male worker taking home roughly $9,500 more than the median female worker in 2017.

The Texas poverty rate hit a 10-year low of 14.7 percent, down from 15.6 percent in 2016 (a reduction of roughly 184,500 people living in poverty). The Texas poverty rate remains higher than the national poverty rate though, and over 4 million Texans lived below the official poverty threshold in 2017 (roughly $25,100 for a family of four).

One of every five Texas children lives in poverty—that’s 1.5 million kids—and children of color are disproportionately likely to be in families with income below the poverty line. The 2017 child poverty rates for Texas show that Hispanic and Black children are three times more likely to live in poverty in Texas than White or Asian children. Children growing up in poverty and low-income households are more likely to face challenges like housing and food insecurity, which can affect their ability to learn in school.

Texans living at or near the poverty line face barriers to obtaining health insurance; nearly one-third of Texans with income below 138 percent of the federal poverty level are uninsured. For more on new health insurance numbers, see our Health & Wellness team’s breakdown.

The information contained in the 2017 ACS data release underscores how critical the 2020 Census will be. As the once-a-decade count of all people living in the United States, the 2020 Census will provide the population numbers by which representation and federal funding are apportioned to the states. For Texas, this federal funding for programs like education, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “food stamps”), and Medicaid provides valuable resources to improve the well-being of Texans. For more information on why the 2020 Census matters and why Texans should demand a statewide complete count committee, check out our research brief.

This week’s American Community Survey data release follows the release of the most recent Current Population Survey (CPS). To better understand how the ACS and CPS are different, check out our side-by-side comparison guide.

CPPP’s Research and Planning Intern Amy Zhang contributed to this report. For more information or to schedule an interview with one of our CPPP experts, please contact Communications Director Oliver Bernstein at bernstein@cppp.org.

Kristie Tingle joined the Center as a Research Analyst in 2016. She works on data-based advocacy projects at the Center, including the Texas KIDS COUNT project. She has previously researched unemployment insurance policy at the Ray Marshall Center. Kristie received her Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2015 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television, and Film from Auburn University.

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