DefinitionThe percentage of persons whose income is at or above the federal poverty thresholds as defined annually by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
The 125% poverty threshold is used for all Alaskans and Alaska Natives. The 100% poverty threshold is used by the U.S. comparison.
NumeratorEstimated number of persons whose income is at or above the federal poverty thresholds (125% for Alaskans and 100% for U.S. comparison) as defined by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
DenominatorMid-year resident population in calendar year.
Data Interpretation IssuesThe Census Bureau reports poverty data from several major household surveys and programs. The Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS) is the source of official national poverty estimates. The American Community Survey (ACS) provides single and multi-year estimates for smaller areas.
U.S. Estimates are based on income below 100% of the federal poverty level for the nation. The U.S. Census Bureau uses a set of income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine the "ratio of income to poverty threshold." The official poverty thresholds are updated for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, but they do not vary geographically except that the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledges high cost of living in Alaska and Hawaii with an adjustment called the "poverty guidelines" which are applied to programmatic eligibility criteria. The poverty definition uses money income before taxes and does not include capital gains, subsistence resources, or non-cash benefits (such as public housing, Medicaid, and food stamps). Historically, analyses of the monetary value of subsistence foods (documented when opportunity allowed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game) has been found to be lower in poorer communities than in better-off communities, and not so substantial that it would alter the ranking of communities with regard to per capita "income" if it were taken into account.
Poverty status is determined by comparing annual income to a set of dollar values called thresholds that vary by family size, number of children, and age of householder. If a family's before tax money income is less than the dollar value of their threshold, then that family and every individual in it are considered to be in poverty. For people not living in families, poverty status is determined by comparing the individual's income to his or her threshold.
The poverty thresholds are updated annually.
Why Is This Important?Income, education, and financial resources are considered key social determinants of health. The lack of such resources limits individuals' ability to obtain health insurance, pay for medical care, afford healthy food, safe housing, and access to other basic goods.^1^ Children in poverty face greater morbidity and mortality due to greater risk of accidental injury, lack of health care access, and poor educational achievement. Early (or prenatal) poverty may result in development damage.^2^ Level of educational attainment influences employment opportunities and income, which in turn impact other social determinants of health, including access to health care. Education can have multigenerational implications that make it an important measure for the health of future generations.^3^ [[br]]
1.National Center for Health Statistics. Chapter 39: Social Determinants of Health. Healthy People 2020 Midcourse Review. Hyattsville, MD. 2016. [https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hpdata2020/HP2020MCR-C39-SDOH.pdf]. Accessed February 12, 2019.
2. Aber, J. et al. The Effects of Poverty on Child Health and Development. Annual Review of Public Health. 1997; Vol. 18: 463-483. [https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev.publhealth.18.1.463]. Accessed February 12, 2019.
3. Committee on Improving the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of Young Adults; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Institute of Medicine; National Research Council; Bonnie RJ, Stroud C, Breiner H, editors. Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Jan 27. 4, Education and Employment.[https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK284788/]. Accessed February 12, 2019.
Healthy People Objective: Proportion of persons living in poverty U.S. Target: Not applicable
Other ObjectivesHealthy Alaskans 2020 Indicator 24: Increase the percentage of the population living at or above the federal poverty level (as defined for Alaska) to 90% by 2020.
How Are We Doing?In 2017, 81.1% of Alaskans were at or above the poverty rate based 125% of the federal poverty threshold, which is below the 90% goal for Healthy Alaskans 2020. For Alaska Native people, 68.2% were at or above the 125% poverty rate. Alaska Native people have lower rates of exceeding the 125% poverty threshold than do Alaskans in general over time.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?The poverty rate in Alaska assessed at 125% of the poverty threshold has closely approximated the national poverty rate assessed at 100%. In 2017, 87.7% of the national population were at or above the poverty rate compared to the 81.1% for all Alaskans at or above the local poverty rate, using their respective baselines.
What Is Being Done?Health care "safety net" programs, such as Medicaid, CHIP, and the Primary Care Network (PCN) provide some relief to those who are eligible. Alaska's community health centers also fill a critical niche in providing high-quality health care services to Alaskans of any income level.
Programs such as Head Start and those that provide assistance linking people with jobs aim to reduce poverty by increasing social functioning and self-sufficiency. Other programs, such as minimum wage requirements, food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and government subsidized health insurance and child care, provide assistance to families needing additional support.
Evidence-based PracticesAs part of the Healthy Alaskans 2020 health improvement process, groups of Alaska subject matter experts met over a period of months in a rigorous review process to identify and prioritize strategies to address the 25 health priorities. Public health partners around the state are aligning work around these approaches adapted to Alaska's unique needs.
[[br]]Support a comprehensive and integrated career and technical education system that aligns training programs and coordinates delivery to prepare the population for Alaska careers. This strategy is based on the Alaska Career and Technical Education Plan.
[[br]]Postsecondary education and training are the clearest pathways into the middle class and future economic security. The average income of college graduates is significantly higher than those with only a high school diploma, and even higher than those without a high school diploma. Middle-skill jobs are projected to account for a large proportion of job openings in the future, and the fastest growing occupations will require postsecondary education or training.
Career and technical education (CTE) is a strategy that can prepare the population for careers by effectively transitioning people from high school into post-secondary education and into employment. An effective CTE system will prepare the population with the pathways and skills needed to have successful lives and careers by providing academic, technical, professional, and overall employability skills. As well as for young people, CTE can provide pathways to chosen careers for people already in the workforce who need training to maintain or upgrade their jobs. In addition, multiple CTE delivery systems can provide equal access and quality of academic and technical programs across the state, including to rural areas.
Smooth transitions from secondary to postsecondary education and from school to work are essential for successful careers in jobs that pay living wages. There is evidence that participation in CTE can lead to increased academic achievement, higher graduation rates, greater consistency of employment, higher quality jobs, and increased future earnings. The Association for Career and Technical Education cites evidence that supports the positive impacts of CTE, including increased participation in the labor force, higher earnings, and decreased risk of dropping out of school.
[https://cew.georgetown.edu/ctefiveways Center on Education and the Workforce]
Holzer HJ, Linn D, Monthey W. [http://www.careertechnj.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Georgetown.BR_.CB-CTE-report-11.2013.pdf The Promise of High-Quality Career and Technical Education: Improving Outcomes for Students, Firms, and the Economy]. 2013.
[[br]]Improve wages and benefits for the Alaskan workforce, so that individuals and families have the income needed to meet the costs of daily living. Prevailing wages offered by the public sector and key industries should reflect a wage rate that is sufficient to meet the minimum standards of living.
[[br]]Reduce the number of unemployed and underemployed in households that fall below the poverty level.
[[br]]Ensure adequate, safe, and affordable housing is available for all Alaskans.
* The Evidence Base and Sources for Strategy 2, Strategy 3, and Strategy 4 can be found at: [http://hss.state.ak.us/ha2020/assets/EBS/HA2020_EBS24_Poverty.pdf].
A listing of strategies, actions, and key partners on this measure can be found at: [http://hss.state.ak.us/ha2020/assets/Actions-Partners_24_Poverty.pdf].