U.S. Census Tract Poverty Data

To see more about US census tract poverty data and the cut-point for poverty areas defined by the US census as >=20% below poverty, see the US Census Bureau Changes in Poverty Rates and Poverty Areas Over Time: 2005-2019.

To facilitate monitoring of area-based socioeconomic disparities in health data, we have extracted census tract level poverty data for ALL census tracts in the United States, for 1980, 1990, and 2000, from the U.S. Census. We have made these available as comma-delimited text files for each year of the decennial Census (1980, 1990, and 2000) with two fields per record.

The first field is the 11-digit areakey (i.e. the geocode) which uniquely identifies the census tract:

Digits 1-2 = State code
Digits 3-5 = County code
Digits 6-11 = Census Tract code (often used with a decimal point:xxxx.xx)
Digit 12 = Blockgroup code

The second field is the percent of people in the census tract living below the federally defined poverty line:
To calculate the proportion of persons below poverty for this region, we sum all categories P1170001 to P1170024 to get the denominator, and sum categories P1170013 to P1170024 to get the numerator, and then simply divide this numerator by the denominator:

(P1170001 + … + P1170012) / (P1170001 + … + P1170024)

Once you have geocoded your own data, you can merge your data with these CT-level poverty data, by areakey.

Poverty 1980
Poverty 1990
Poverty 2000

Note: If you open these data files in Excel, the first column (11-digit areakey) may not be properly displayed. Simply widen the column to see the full areakey.