As of 2014, the poverty-level income for one person in the United States is $11,670. For each additional person in the household, the income goes up $4,060. In Alaska, the poverty-level income for one person is $14,580, and in Hawaii it is $13,420.
According to U.S. Census Bureau, 16 percent of Americans and nearly 20 percent of American children lived at or below poverty level in 2012. Poverty guidelines are used to qualify individuals and families for government programs such as Head Start, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the National School Lunch Program and Children's Health Insurance Program.
The threshold for poverty is set when people can no longer afford those things that mainstream society often takes for granted. Most Americans spend at least one year below this threshold at some point.