Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor de Blasio said that Friday’s report “shows real progress toward our goal of lifting 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty or near poverty by 2025.”
By Michael V. Cusenza
The City poverty rate and the near-poverty rate (the percentage living below 150 percent of Gotham’s poverty threshold) have modestly decreased since Mayor Bill de Blasio assumed office, the administration announced on Friday.
According to the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, its annual New York City Government Poverty Measure report indicates a drop in the near-poverty rate to 43.5 percent in 2016, a 1.6-percentage point decline from 2014’s rate of 45.1 percent. The analysis also demonstrated that New Yorkers in actual poverty has declined since 2014, to 19.5 percent from 20.6 percent. And, in 2016, there were 141,000 fewer New Yorkers in poverty or near poverty than there were in 2013.
Poverty is at its lowest level since the Great Recession (2007-2009), according to the administration.
“Reducing poverty is a critical part of the City’s goal to be the fairest big city in America,” said MOEO Executive Director Matthew Klein. “We have much more progress to make, but the findings in this report show that we are headed in the right direction.”
Highlights from this year’s report include:
• The City poverty rate for 2016 was 19.5 percent, down from 19.9 percent in 2015.
• The at- or near-poverty rate for 2016 was 43.5 percent, down from 44.2 percent in 2015.
• From 2014 to 2016, these groups experienced “significant declines” in their poverty rates, according to the administration: working-age adults (to 18.3 percent in 2016 from 19.7 percent in 2014); blacks (to 19.2 percent in 2016 from 21.3 percent in 2014); Asians (to 24.1 percent in 2016 from 26.6 percent in 2014); families with one full-time and one part-time worker (to 12.8 percent in 2016 from 14.8 percent in 2014); and unmarried childless adults (to 17.1 percent in 2016 from 20.8 percent in 2014).
“Today’s report shows real progress toward our goal of lifting 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty or near poverty by 2025,” de Blasio said.
Over the last four years the City has organized initiatives aimed at that objective, including Pre-K for All, paid family leave, and paid sick leave. This year, the City Council is looking to contribute to the effort by calling on the administration to fund the Fair Fares program, which would provide half-fare MetroCards to individuals and families living below the poverty level. According to the council, Fair Fares could save up to $726 a year for approximately 800,000 low-income residents.
It should be noted that New York is the only U.S. city that calculates its own poverty rate. The City poverty measure, according to the administration, was developed to provide a more precise portrait of poverty in the five boroughs than the official federal poverty measure. It takes into account the cost of living in NYC, including the higher cost of housing, and counts as income those programs that supplement New Yorkers’ income, such as tax credits and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits—elements that are not taken into account in the federal measure. The U.S. official poverty measure has remained largely unchanged for 50 years.
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