Poor & old: 11% of senior Floridians live in poverty, census data shows

Florida

An elderly residents walks inside deserted John Knox Village, a retirement community in Pompano Beach, Florida on March 21, 2020. – Almost one billion people were confined to their homes worldwide as the global coronavirus death toll topped 12,000 and US states rolled out stay-at-home measures already imposed across swathes of Europe. More than a third of Americans were adjusting to life in various phases of virtual lockdown — including in the US’s three biggest cities of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — with more states expected to ramp up restrictions. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – America may be an economic powerhouse, but 10.5% of the country is living in poverty, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The percentage is higher in Florida, at 12.7%.

Those numbers get worse when you focus on America’s older population, nationally and at the state level.

Of the more than 54 million Americans aged 65 and up, only about 1.3 million are not living at or below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census.

As of the 2019 ACS, the latest data available, 54,074,028 Americans are 65 or older. Here’s how the age group is broken down:

AgePopulation
65-69 years-old17,427,013
70-74 years-old14,148,548
75-79 years-old9,759,764
80-84 years-old6,380,474
85 or older6,358,229
Total:54,074,028
(Source: Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)

In the 12 months before the survey data was gathered:

Sex, age and poverty levelPopulation
Male, 65 to 74 below poverty level1,110,958
Male, 75+ below poverty level705,196
Female, 65 to 74 below poverty level1,598,994
Female, 75+ below poverty level1,570,121
Male, 65 to 74 at or above poverty level13,408,392
Male, 75+ at or above poverty level8,335,111
Female, 65 to 74 at or above poverty level15,097,790
Female, 75+ at or above poverty level10,955,766
Total:52,782,328
(Source: Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)

So what’s that look like in the Sunshine State?

In Florida, 20.9% of the population is 65 or older. It’s a higher rate than the national number, where 16.5% are seniors or elderly, based on the data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2019.

Florida’s poverty rate still measures higher than the national rate of 10.5%, coming in at 12.7%, according to Census data.

Your grandparents might be poor

For elderly Floridians, the data shows that about 640,000 residents 60 and older are living below the poverty level. When you narrow it down from 60 to 65 and older, that number shrinks to almost 475,000 below the poverty level.

The earliest age an American can collect social security payments is 62 years old. The current retirement age listed by the Social Security Administration is 66 years and two months old.

The retirement age goes up to 67 for anyone born after 1959.

To cover some of the costs for senior living that isn’t covered by social security, some seniors have re-entered the work force. Others never left.

Looking at more Florida-centric data, 8 On Your Side focused on Census data for grandparents both below the poverty level, and at or above it, looking at the state and county-by-county. Data for the entire United States was checked, as well as a baseline for comparison.

Data as of 2019 ACSFlorida-wideAcross the U.S.
Grandparents with income below the poverty level69,545965,630
Grandparents responsible for their own grandchildren, under 1826,701457,602
Grandparents not responsible for their own grandchildren, under 1842,844508,028
Grandparents with income at or above the poverty level427,9586,273,881
Grandparents responsible for their own grandchildren, under 18120,4762,009,668
Grandparents not responsible for their own grandchildren, under 18307,4824,264,213
(Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Seniors at work, social security

The U.S. Department of Health’s Administration for Community Living reports that across the country, the number of Americans age 65 and older in the labor force, or actively looking for work, had dropped to 9.8 million in 2020, down from 2019’s 10.7 million.

The same report, published in May 2021, says that the median income of older persons was $27,398, with men making $36,921 and $21,815 for women. It also said that 10.7% of Florida’s elderly population are living at the poverty rate.

While the decrease in older Americans working could be a sign of improving conditions, there are still hurdles to leap over, like costs of housing, medications, and other everyday expenses. Social security payments only cover so much.

When money is tight, an already difficult issue can quickly get worse, and costs can pile-up. The costs of living are what contribute to poverty rates.

How the Census Bureau measures Poverty

ACL reports that “For all older persons reporting income in 2019 (52.8 million), 12% reported less than $10,000 and 55% reported $25,000 or more.”

The ACL report also shows that older women had a higher poverty rate than men of similar ages. 10.3% of older women lived below the poverty level as of 2019. Only 7.2% of older men lived below the poverty level.

Older persons living on their own also tend to be poorer than those living with families, at 16.1% to 5.3%, respectively.

Poverty levels in the United States

So what is the poverty level, or poverty line? The poverty line in 2021 varies by household size.

Household SizePoverty Guideline
1$12,880
2$17,420
3$21,960
4$26,500
5$31,040
6$35,580
7$40,120
8$44,660
NOTE: For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,540 for each additional person.
(Source: Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Dept. of Health and Human Services)

In Alaska and Hawaii, it’s a bit different.

For Alaska:

Household SizePoverty Guideline
1$16,090
2$21,770
3$27,450
4$33,130
5$38,810
6$44,490
7$50,170
8$55,850
NOTE: For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $5,680 for each additional person.
(Source: Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Dept. of Health and Human Services)

And Hawaii:

Household SizePoverty Guideline
1$14,820
2$20,040
3$25,260
4$30,480
5$35,700
6$40,920
7$46,140
8$51,360
NOTE: For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $5,220 for each additional person
(Source: Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Dept. of Health and Human Services)

>> Follow Sam Sachs on Facebook
>> Follow Sam Sachs on Twitter

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss