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Poverty Rate

The percent of Lincoln’s population in poverty decreased to pre-Great Recession levels in 2019

The federal poverty level is determined annually based on size of the family, the number of children, and a measure of income needed to purchase food and other essential goods and services.1 In 2021, for example, the poverty threshold was $27,575 for a family of four that included two related children less than 19 years of age. The 2021 poverty threshold for one person under age 65 was $14,097, or about $38.62 a day.

  • In Lincoln in 2019, 12% (32,564 persons) lived in households falling below the poverty threshold, matching the 2008 pre-Great Recession level of 12% (28,012 persons).
  • Since 2010, there has been a 23% decrease in the number of persons below the poverty threshold. This represents a decrease of 9,755 persons in poverty.
  • Since 2005, the poverty rate in Lincoln peaked in 2010 with 17% of households falling below the poverty threshold.



1. Critics have said that the Federal Poverty Threshold, developed in the early 1960s, should be improved. The measure uses food costs and a multiplier of three to calculate needed income. Needed income is compared to gross income and does not include in-kind benefits, nor does it recognize increased labor participation of women (and related childcare costs), variability in health care costs across populations, or variability of expenses across geographies. These and other factors may underestimate poverty for persons in working families and overestimate poverty for persons in families receiving public assistance.