Statement on Poverty and Income Statistics for 1986


July 30, 1987


The official 1986 poverty and income statistics released today demonstrate, once again, that sustained, noninflationary growth is the Government's single best tool for fighting poverty and building a better life for our nation's families.


The poverty rate is down for the third year in a row. The 1.6 percentage point drop in poverty over the last 3 years is the largest sustained improvement since 1970. Low-income whites, blacks, and Hispanics, both children and adults, all have shared in these gains. Median family income, after adjustments for inflation, increased by 4.2 percent in 1986, the largest increase since 1972. This is the fourth straight year in a row that real median family income has increased. Since 1982 all racial and ethnic groups have made real gains.


The positive news that we received today stands in stark contrast to the news we heard not long ago when spiraling inflation and economic stagnation took a heavy toll on all Americans, and particularly the poor. Between 1979 and 1980, the increase in poverty was the most dramatic since we began keeping such records, and the drop in real median family income was near recordbreaking. Our economic recovery program slowed and eventually reversed these negative trends. I remain fully committed to ensure that our nation's citizens do not suffer the ravages of stagflation.