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A Profile of Older Americans: 2005


About 3.6 million elderly persons (9.8%) were below the poverty level in 2004. This change in the poverty rate was a statistically significant decrease from the poverty rate in 2003 of 10.2%. The historic lowest level of 9.7% was reached in 1999. Another 2.3 million or 6.7% of the elderly were classified as "near-poor" (income between the poverty level and 125% of this level).

One of every twelve (7.5%) elderly Whites** was poor in 2004, compared to 23.9% of elderly African-Americans, 13.6% of Asians, and 18.7% of elderly Hispanics. Higher than average poverty rates were found in 2003 for older persons were found among those who lived in central cities (13.1%), outside metropolitan areas (i.e. rural areas) (11.0%), and in the South (11.9%).

Older women had a higher poverty rate (12.0%) than older men (7.0%) in 2004. Older persons living alone were much more likely to be poor (17.9%) than were older persons living with families (5.7%). The highest poverty rates (39.9%) were experienced by older Black women and also among Hispanic women who lived alone.

(Based on data from Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004," P60-229, issued August, 2005, by the U.S. Bureau of the Census and related Census detailed tables on the Census Bureau website)


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