The percentage of adults with incomes below the federal poverty line in the City of St. Louis
Black adults are more than twice as likely as white adults to live in poverty.
A score of 100 represents racial equity, meaning there are no racial disparities in outcomes. The lower the Equity Score, the greater the disparity.
For Adult Poverty, a score of 100 — a score reflecting racial equity — would mean the same percentage of white and black adults have incomes below the federal poverty line. It is important to note that for this indicator, equity is not our only goal; we also want to improve outcomes for all.
What does this indicator measure?
Adult Poverty measures the percentage of adults with incomes below the federal poverty line in the City of St. Louis. The income threshold for poverty varies depending on the number of people in a household. For example, a single person household living below the federal poverty line in 2016 means they make less than $11,880 per year. For a single mother with two kids, it means she makes less than $20,160 per year. In 2016, there were an estimated 44,647 adults (18.5% of all adults) in St. Louis that lived in poverty.
Adult poverty analysis
Adults with incomes below the federal poverty line in St. Louis City.
|Adults with incomes below poverty line
|Adult poverty rate
|2.515 to 1
Data Source: American Community Survey 1-year PUMS, 2016.
Data Note: PUMS data may differ slightly from estimates on American FactFinder due to differences in sampling. See PUMS technical documentation for more information. Estimates for Hispanic residents are based on a small number of sample cases and should be interpreted with extreme caution. The number of sample cases is too small to report reliable estimates for additional racial groups.
What does this analysis mean?
Black adults in the City of St. Louis are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as white adults. Black adults are the most likely to live in poverty (25.8%), followed by Hispanic adults (21.2%). White adults are the least likely to live in poverty (10.3%). If the rate of adult poverty were equitable, there would be 16,509 fewer black adults living in poverty.
|Persons Per Household
Poverty Rates by Age Group
Further disaggregating by age, we learn that elderly residents in St. Louis are less likely to live in poverty than adults 18 to 64. However, racial disparities persist. There are 4,345 seniors living in poverty, or 12.4% of all seniors. Elderly black residents are nearly three times as likely as elderly white residents to live in poverty (18.9% compared to 6.9%).
|Adults 18-64 in Poverty
|Percent of Adults
|Seniors 65+ in Poverty
|Percent of Seniors
Data Source: American Community Survey 1-year PUMS, 2016
Why does Adult Poverty matter?
Living in a state of poverty comes with many other costs. Poverty is a contributing factor to other racial inequities throughout this report, from lack of access to performing schools and healthy food to avoiding pretrial detention. Financial stressors such as municipal fines and traffic tickets have much greater impact on low-income households than others. Low-income individuals are more likely to turn to predatory lending to cover basic expenses and are less likely to be able to complete their college education. In addition, poverty is well known to negatively impact mental and physical health of people.
Residents with full-time, minimum-wage jobs (which translates to an annual income of $15,930) still earn incomes below the federal poverty line for a family of two ($16,020). Adults living in poverty without children are not eligible for Medicaid or other subsidized healthcare.
While Social Security and other benefits have greatly reduced rates of poverty among the elderly, rising medical costs reduce the amount of income available for other needs. Poverty makes it difficult for elderly people to pay for healthcare and cover utility bills, making them more vulnerable to mortgage lenders who offer high-rate, high-fee loans. Poverty among the elderly is known to contribute to mortality disparities, despite national health insurance programs such as Medicare.
Which Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission report are linked with this indicator?
Ending poverty is one of the Ferguson Commission’s signature priorities. The Commission’s calls to action include:
Questions for further investigation
- Why is there racial disparity in Adult Poverty?
- What can St. Louis do to reduce racial disparities in Adult Poverty?
- What initiatives are currently underway to reduce racial disparities in Adult Poverty?
How can I learn more about this issue?
The St. Louis Area Agency on Aging provides a comprehensible and coordinated system of community-based services for older adults in the City of St. Louis.