South Carolina Cultural Indicators 2019: Poverty and Dependence

Median Household Income

Inflation-Adjusted Dollars

Since 1980, the inflation-adjusted, median household income for South Carolina residents increased 14%, while the national median rose by only 2%. In 2017, the typical South Carolina household earned $62,432, while the typical American household earned $73,891.[119] 

In both South Carolina and the rest of the nation, improvements in earnings were greatest among married-couple families. In 2017, the average married-couple family in South Carolina earned $77,708, 26% more than in 1980 (after adjusting for inflation). By comparison, American married-couple families nationwide earned an average of $88,315, about 12% more than in 1980 (after adjusting for inflation).[120]

In general, the gap between South Carolina’s median household income and that of the nation has narrowed since 1980, from an inflation-adjusted gap of 32% to 18% in 2017. Married-couple families in South Carolina have narrowed the income gap between the state and the national average from 29% in 1980 to 14% in 2017. Male-headed households have had less success, narrowing the gap from 27% to 21%. In contrast, the income gap between female-headed households in South and the rest of the nation has widened, from 17% in 1980 to 19% in 2017.[121]

Households headed by single parents have become poorer since 1980. After adjusting for inflation, male- and female-headed households in South Carolina saw their earnings drop by 14% and 6%, respectively. This is about the same as the rest of the nation (male-headed households: -18%; female-headed households: -4%).[122]


 

References

[119] American Fact Finder, U.S. Census Bureau, “Selected Population Profile in the United States: 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table S0201,” and earlier years. Available at https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml. Access verified Oct. 30, 2018.

[120] Ibid.

[121] Ibid.

[122] Ibid.

Families in Poverty

United States Households in Poverty, by Type

The U.S. Census Bureau measures poverty in the United States by calculating a household’s pre-tax money income such as wages and salaries, Social Security benefits, interest, dividends, pensions, and other retirement earnings. Since 2010, the Bureau has also released a second estimate of poverty—the Supplemental Poverty Measure, or SPM—that considers cash income but also taxes, necessary expenses, and noncash benefits from government programs.[123]

Using the Bureau’s traditional measure of poverty, the percentage of American households in poverty has fallen 49% since 1960, from 18.1% to 9.3% in 2017.[124]

Since 1960, the percentage of households in poverty headed by a single female declined by 39%, from 42.4% to 25.7%. Female-headed households have traditionally been the most likely to be in poverty, with an average poverty rate of 32% since 1960.[125]

Since 1973—the first complete year data are available for married couples and male-headed households—the percentage of married couples in poverty fell by almost 4%, from 5.3% to 4.9% in 2017. Married couples have the lowest poverty rate of all household types, averaging 5.8% since 1973.[126] 

Between 1973 and 2017, male-headed households experienced a 15.9% increase in poverty, from 10.7% to 12.4%. While male-headed homes tend to earn more than those headed by a female, both single-parent household types are more susceptible to the risk of going from one income to no income than in homes where there are or could be dual earners.[127]

Except for female-headed households, poverty rates using the SPM tend to be three to five percentage points higher than the Bureau’s traditional poverty measure.[128]


 

References

[123] U.S. Census Bureau, “The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2017, Report P60-265,” and earlier editions. Sept. 12, 2018. Available at www.census.gov/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-265.html. Access verified Oct. 31, 2018.

[124] Kayla Fontenot, Jessica Semega, and Melissa Kollar, “Table B-3: Poverty Status of Families by Type of Family: 1959 to 2017.” In U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-263, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2017. USGPO: Washington, DC, Sept. 2018. Available at www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-263.pdf. Access verified Oct. 31, 2018.

[125] Ibid.

[126] Ibid.

[127] Ibid.

[128] U.S. Census Bureau, “The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2017, Report P60-265,” and earlier editions. Sept. 12, 2018. Available at www.census.gov/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-265.html. Access verified Oct. 31, 2018.

AFDC /TANF Payments

AFDC / TANF Recipients in South Carolina

Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was a cash assistance program primarily intended for women with children in their household. In most circumstances, if recipients married, they would lose their benefits. Created in 1935 and originally called Aid to Dependent Children, this program was originally created under the New Deal to assist widows (or wives of disabled men) and their children. It was a program in which the federal government generally paid about 80% of the cost for state recipients.[129] With the advent of the Welfare Reform Act in 1996, AFDC was replaced with TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), which gives states the flexibility to structure the program as they see fit.[130]

After peaking in 1980 and 1981, the total number of children and individual recipients receiving benefits in South Carolina dropped 86% and 88%, respectively.[131] 

Nationally, there were about 2.5 million TANF recipients in 2017. This is about 82% lower than the 14.2 million individuals on AFDC in 1993.[132] 

Prior to 1996, the number of families receiving AFDC was not published on a state-to-state level. Since then, the number of families, individual recipients, and children on TANF in South Carolina has dropped by 80%, 84%, and 82%, respectively.[133]


 

References

[129] Virginia Commonwealth University, Social Welfare History Project, Aid to Dependent Children: The Legal History. Available at www.socialwelfarehistory.com/programs/aid-to-dependent-children-the-legal-history/.  Access verified Oct. 31, 2018.

[130] Child Trends, Child Recipients of Welfare, 2018. Available at www.childtrends.org/?indicators=child-recipients-of-welfareafdctanf. Access verified Oct. 31, 2018.

[131] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance, “TANF Caseload Data 2017,” Sept. 26, 2017, and earlier editions. Available at www.acf.hhs.gov/ofa/resource/tanf-caseload-data-2017. Access verified Oct. 31, 2018.

[132] Ibid.

[133] Ibid.

Food Stamps

Food Stamps Benefits in South Carolina

The current food stamp program began as a pilot program in 1961; was made a permanent program (operated at states’ option) in 1964; and a mandatory program for all states in 1974.

Since 1970, the inflation-adjusted cost of the program in South Carolina and the nation has increased 551% and 1,731%, respectively.[134]

In fiscal year 2017, 42.1 million Americans received food stamps, at a cost of more than $63.6 billion. Of these, almost 718,000 were South Carolina residents, at a cost of $1.06 billion. Since 1970, the number of program participants in South Carolina has increased 296%, while national participation has increased 715%.[135]

Since 2013, the number of food stamp recipients in South Carolina and the rest of the nation have decreased 18% and 12%, respectively. As of 2017, about one in every seven South Carolinians received some support from food stamps.[136]


 

References

[134] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Nov. 6, 2018. Available at www.fns.usda.gov/pd/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap. Access verified Nov. 7, 2018.

[135] Ibid.

[136] Ibid.

SSI Benefits

SSI Benefits in South Carolina

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides payments to the aged, blind, and disabled who are poor. Prior to its implementation as a federal program in the mid-1970s, individual states operated programs to assist people in these categories.[137]

During the last 30 years, SSI has changed from mainly serving elderly individuals to a disability program. In 2017, the largest categories of payments in South Carolina were to persons claiming disability (107,412; 92%).[138]

Since 1974, the inflation-adjusted total of SSI payments to South Carolina residents has increased 119% to about $649.1 million for 116,611 recipients.[139]


 

References

[137] Social Security Administration, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, “Supplemental Security Income Program Description and Legislative History,” in Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, 2012. Available at www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2012/ssi.html. Access verified Nov. 7, 2018.

[138] Social Security Administration, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, “Supplemental Security Income,” in Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, 2018. Available at www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2018/7b.html. Access verified Nov. 8, 2018.

[139] Ibid.