BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – As a percentage of its population, Massachusetts has fewer “near-poor” residents than the nation as a whole. New U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that 245,000 Bay State residents are struggling to get by on wages that place their families just above the official government poverty threshold.
The bureau reported Thursday that 14.7 million people in the United States had family incomes between 100 percent and 125 percent of the poverty threshold in 2012, or 4.7 percent. The bureau placed the U.S. near-poverty threshold range for a family of four with two adults and two children is $23,283 to $29,104.
In Massachusetts, according to the bureau, 3.8 percent of residents were considered near-poor in 2012. The government reported that individuals with less than a high school degree had a near-poverty rate of 10 percent in 2012, compared to 1.6 percent among individuals with at least a college degree. More than 32 percent of near-poor individuals received nutrition benefits, formerly known as food stamps.
In 2012, the share of the near-poverty population covered by public health insurance in the U.S. was 43.6 percent, while the share of the poverty population covered by public health insurance was 50.2 percent. On Beacon Hill, there’s agreement among Gov. Deval Patrick and majorities in the House and Senate to raise the $8 an hour minimum wage, but top Democrats have been unable to agree for months to come together around a single plan for raising the wage floor.