Financial Security
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity

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People Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2016-20

What does this measure?

The proportion of people within racial and ethnic groups with incomes below the poverty line. Poverty thresholds vary by family composition and year. In 2020, the threshold for a four-person family with two children was $26,246.

Why is this important?

The percentage of people in poverty in various racial and ethnic groups is a measure of the overall economic health of these groups and may reflect disparities in access to economic opportunity. It also indicates the level of need for social and government supports.

How is our region doing?

In 2016-19, 19% of Hispanic residents and 14% of African American residents in MetroWest had incomes below the poverty line, compared to 9% of Asian residents and 6% of white residents. Since 2000, rates declined by 5 percentage point for Hispanics, 3 point for Asians and 1 point for African American residents. The rate remained unchanged for white residents.

In all cases but one, the regional rates were better than the state and national rates. Hispanics in MetroWest had a poverty rate 1 point higher than the national rate of 18%.

Why do these disparities exist?

These large and persistent disparities in poverty rates are the result of historic and current policies and practices that disadvantaged people of color. Research has connected slavery and the inability of black Americans even after emancipation to fully participate in economic life to the wealth and income gaps still present today. In addition, these differences are attributed to the complex interplay of conditions including gender, occupation, family structure, education, employment status, wages, incarceration, unemployment and discrimination. African American workers across industries tend to earn lower wages than their white and Asian American peers. While education, especially the absence of a high school diploma, increases the likelihood of poverty, education credentials do not eliminate racial disparities. African Americans experience unemployment at twice the rate of whites regardless of education level. Also, the disproportionate and systemic incarceration of Black and Latinx males decreases job prospects and increases the likelihood of poverty.

Notes about the data

Poverty status is not reported for people in institutions, including college dormitories and military barracks, and people in living situations without conventional housing. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.

The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined five years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. However, because the information came from a survey, the samples responding to the survey were not always large enough to produce reliable results, especially in small geographic areas. CGR has noted on data tables the estimates with relatively large margins of error. Estimates with three asterisks have the largest margins, plus or minus 50% or more of the estimate. Two asterisks mean plus or minus 35%-50%, and one asterisk means plus or minus 20%-35%. For all estimates, the confidence level is 90%, meaning there is 90% probability the true value (if the whole population were surveyed) would be within the margin of error (or confidence interval). The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census. Data for this indicator are expected to be released annually in December.

People Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2016-20
AsianBlack or African AmericanHispanicWhite
United States11%22%18%11%
Massachusetts12%18%23%8%
Region9%14%19%6%
Middlesex County9%15%17%6%
Norfolk County8%11%*12%5%
Worcester County10%14%24%8%
Acton town, Middlesex County1%***1%***3%***3%**
Ashland town, Middlesex County0%***4%***8%***5%**
Bedford town, Middlesex County4%***1%***1%***2%***
Bellingham town, Norfolk County0%***4%***10%***3%**
Boxborough town, Middlesex County2%***0%***10%***4%***
Carlisle town, Middlesex County0%***0%***25%***4%***
Concord town, Middlesex County7%***1%***3%***2%**
Dedham town, Norfolk County3%***12%***6%***4%**
Dover town, Norfolk County0%***0%***0%***1%***
Framingham city, Middlesex County5%**18%**15%**7%
Franklin town, Norfolk County11%***30%***18%***4%**
Groton town, Middlesex County0%***100%***7%***4%**
Harvard town, Worcester County0%***1%***1%***2%***
Holliston town, Middlesex County2%***14%***0%***2%***
Hopkinton town, Middlesex County2%***17%***18%***3%***
Hudson town, Middlesex County5%***8%***12%***5%*
Lexington town, Middlesex County5%**1%***7%***3%*
Lincoln town, Middlesex County0%***1%***22%***6%***
Littleton town, Middlesex County4%***0%***0%***5%***
Marlborough city, Middlesex County0%***2%***13%***7%**
Maynard town, Middlesex County0%***2%***23%***5%**
Medfield town, Norfolk County5%***25%***0%***2%***
Medway town, Norfolk County2%***5%***16%***6%**
Milford town, Worcester County2%***8%***20%***8%*
Millis town, Norfolk County1%***0%***0%***1%***
Natick town, Middlesex County2%***19%***13%***3%*
Needham town, Norfolk County4%***3%***1%***2%**
Sherborn town, Middlesex County0%***29%***0%***7%***
Southborough town, Worcester County8%***33%***17%***3%**
Stow town, Middlesex County36%***0%***1%***1%***
Sudbury town, Middlesex County1%***0%***2%***3%***
Walpole town, Norfolk County0%***12%***3%***5%**
Waltham city, Middlesex County15%**8%***17%**7%*
Wayland town, Middlesex County2%***13%***1%***3%***
Wellesley town, Norfolk County0%***62%***19%***3%**
Westborough town, Worcester County4%***3%***14%***3%**
Westford town, Middlesex County2%***0%***7%***2%**
Weston town, Middlesex County14%***16%***7%***7%**
Westwood town, Norfolk County3%***26%***11%***3%***

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Data not shown where sample sizes were too small. Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




Number of People Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2016-20
AsianBlack or African AmericanHispanicWhite
United States1,917,6918,726,81410,642,65323,820,939
Massachusetts52,34986,362184,331400,134
Region27,77822,69047,154152,439
Middlesex County17,91511,68121,36070,106
Norfolk County6,0055,413*3,62226,537
Worcester County3,8585,59622,17255,796
Acton town, Middlesex County83***8***37***531**
Ashland town, Middlesex County0***38***92***737**
Bedford town, Middlesex County102***2***2***210***
Bellingham town, Norfolk County0***17***63***463**
Boxborough town, Middlesex County19***0***21***187***
Carlisle town, Middlesex County0***0***12***172***
Concord town, Middlesex County106***2***20***348**
Dedham town, Norfolk County21***222***146***905**
Dover town, Norfolk County0***0***0***30***
Framingham city, Middlesex County310**768**1,706**3,311
Franklin town, Norfolk County204***117***153***1,092**
Groton town, Middlesex County0***22***24***383**
Harvard town, Worcester County0***3***5***98***
Holliston town, Middlesex County13***22***0***292***
Hopkinton town, Middlesex County50***61***101***483***
Hudson town, Middlesex County33***9***154***843*
Lexington town, Middlesex County496**5***41***534*
Lincoln town, Middlesex County0***1***156***334***
Littleton town, Middlesex County30***0***0***457***
Marlborough city, Middlesex County3***33***752***2,124**
Maynard town, Middlesex County0***3***71***483**
Medfield town, Norfolk County28***42***0***292***
Medway town, Norfolk County10***11***65***688**
Milford town, Worcester County18***83***758***1,824*
Millis town, Norfolk County2***0***0***93***
Natick town, Middlesex County100***145***148***838*
Needham town, Norfolk County117***22***4***564**
Sherborn town, Middlesex County0***7***0***259***
Southborough town, Worcester County135***13***52***240**
Stow town, Middlesex County195***0***1***31***
Sudbury town, Middlesex County24***0***8***417***
Walpole town, Norfolk County0***52***43***994**
Waltham city, Middlesex County902**356***1,432**2,594*
Wayland town, Middlesex County32***13***11***366***
Wellesley town, Norfolk County0***271***186***672**
Westborough town, Worcester County171***21***187***408**
Westford town, Middlesex County92***0***46***345**
Weston town, Middlesex County224***22***30***672**
Westwood town, Norfolk County45***39***58***354***

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Data not shown where sample sizes were too small. Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




INDICATORS REGIONAL TREND
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Maintaining
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Decreasing
Reports of Domestic Violence Maintaining
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Contribution Maintaining
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Drug Poisoning Mortality Rate Increasing
Crimes Against People Decreasing
Incarceration Rates, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Total Population Increasing
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Population by Age Not Applicable
Change in Population by Age/Gender Not Applicable
Seniors Living Alone Decreasing
People with Disabilities Maintaining
Change in Total Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Business Ownership by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Share of Workers who are Professionals, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
High-Tech Jobs Maintaining
Female to Male Earnings Ratio Maintaining
Prekindergarten Participation Not Applicable
School Spending Per Student Maintaining
Student Performance on Grade 3 English, by Student Group Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math by Student Group Not Applicable
Chronically Absent Students Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate by Student Group Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
College Admission Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
People Living in Poverty, by Education Level Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households Receiving Temporary Assistance Maintaining
Participation in Food Assistance by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Living Wage Not Applicable
80/20 Income Ratio Maintaining
Access to Financial Services, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Increasing
Homeownership Rates, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Homeownership Increasing
Cost of Homeownership, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Rent Not Applicable
Cost of Rent, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homelessness Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Incarceration Rates, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Business Ownership by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Share of Workers who are Professionals, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 3 English, by Student Group Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math by Student Group Not Applicable
High School Cohort Graduation Rate by Student Group Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
College Admission Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Participation in Food Assistance by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Access to Financial Services, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Homeownership, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Rent, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable


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