Living below the breadline

In 2018, there were approximately 30 million Americans living in poverty. During the same period, a study found that 17 million Americans were living in what is known as deep poverty. These families earned an income that was below 50% of the poverty line.

People who earn less than the Federal government’s official poverty threshold are considered to live in poverty. Under the threshold, that would be about $27,000 for a family of four. These individuals include seniors living on a fixed program, people working for minimum wage, employees who suddenly find themselves without a job, people working multiple jobs, and people from rural and other towns.


While there have been three consecutive years of increases, the dollar amount did not change significantly per household for families or non-families. There was, however, a shift in working behavior. There was a 2%  shift from 2018 to 2019 in individuals, both men and women, who shifted from part-time positions to full-time year-round positions.

Programs that help

Government-sponsored programs aim to alleviate the pressures of poverty on families from low-income households. Some of these programs are SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Program, or Lifeline. Lifeline provides phones and services at reduced rates or, in some cases, for free.

Several states participate in Lifeline and Lifeline phone companies Oklahoma-based is one example of a state that participates in this program. Other programs include Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, certain Tribal Programs, or Medicaid.

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