Standard of Living

How many Americans are living in poverty? What is the GDP per capita across the US?

Latest update on February 7, 2023

What does standard of living mean?

The standard of living in the United States is a measure of how well people and families are doing. It looks at things like how much money they make from wages and income, help they get from the government like Medicaid and unemployment insurance, how many people are living in poverty, and how much it costs to run a household. This page has important information that can help answer important questions and show how our standard of living is changing. By looking at the data provided, you can learn more about how things are changing and how it affects our quality of life.

Poverty rate

In 2022, 11.5% of Americans were living in poverty.

New Mexico has the highest level of poverty at 20.2%.

Families and individuals that are in the lower groups of earners may fall below the poverty threshold. The poverty threshold for a given household varies by the size of a family and age of its members. The thresholds are uniform in all states. These determinations are made and data is reported by the US Census Bureau.

Poverty rate by race and ethnicity

In 2022, 25.0% of American Indian and Alaska Native people were in poverty.

Data from the Census Bureau shows how poverty rates differ among different racial or ethnic groups.

Real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita

In Q4 2022, the real gross domestic product per capita was $78,347.

Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is a commonly used measure for the standard of living. It’s reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and it represents the total value of all goods and services produced in the US on a per-person basis if it were divided equally among all citizens.

While earned income and government transfers can give a rough idea of a household’s ability to spend and/or make ends meet, GDP per capita includes personal expenditures directly. However, it also includes government spending on things like infrastructure that contribute to a person’s standard of living. GDP is an everyday economic indicator that is estimated for all US states. The per capita estimate provides a straightforward geographical comparison to view the similarity in the standard of living across the country. For example, areas with higher GDP per capita might be more able to support higher wages and therefore a higher standard of living.

Spending on standard of living

In fiscal year 2020, governments spent a combined total of $2.1 trillion on standard of living and aid for the disadvantaged.

That comes out to $6,376 per person.

USAFacts categorizes government budget data to allocate spending appropriately, and to arrive at the estimate presented here. Spending on standard of living, most notably with unemployment insurance, spiked during the pandemic.

Government revenue and expenditures are based on data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Each is published annually, although due to collection times, state and local government data are not as current as federal data. Thus, when combining federal, state, and local revenues and expenditures, the most recent year for a combined number may be delayed.

Agencies and elected officials

Key actors

Income and taxes

Department of Labor, Congress

Set and enforce federal minimum wage

Cash assistance

Department of Health and Human Services

Give block grants to fund Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF)

Non-cash assistance and services (including medical benefits)

Department of Health and Human Services

Fund childcare assistance


Income and taxes

Cash assistance

Non-cash assistance and services (including medical benefits)

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