Census Bureau Releases Poverty Data for 2010
Sep 13, 2011
How many more have to fall into poverty before we say enough? That should be the question every American asks the nation's policymakers as they begin debating President Obama's jobs package and how to cut more than a trillion dollars from the nation's deficit over the next decade. Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released data revealing we not only have a jobs crisis, we have a poverty crisis. A record 46.2 million live in poverty, defined by Census as less than $22,113 annually for a family of four. Deep poverty is worsening as well. The number of people living in households at less than 50 percent of the federal poverty threshold (about $11,056 a year or less for a family of four) increased to 20.5 million or 6.7 percent of the population. Children are particularly vulnerable, with 22 percent of all children living in poverty, up from 20.7 percent, and one in four children (25.9 percent) 5 and under poor.
Although the increase in poverty is not unexpected, we cannot dismiss it as merely a byproduct of the recent economic recession and corresponding net job loss. The truth is that for the last decade, poverty has continually increased. When the stock market was rallying and unemployment was relatively low, families were falling into poverty. The federal poverty rate in 2000 was 11.3 percent. It's now 15.1 percent, the highest level since 1993. Poverty is increasing, wages are stagnating, median incomes are falling, and economic inequality is rising. A broader look at poverty trends reveals we are going backward, and in recent years even when the country was on firmer economic footing, prosperity was not shared. Read CLASP's full statement on the 2010 poverty data >>
CLASP commentary on the 2010 poverty data:
Poverty data released today tell a cold truth about a rich nation that could do better. The U.S. is now home to 46.2 million poor people according to the latest Census Bureau report on income, poverty and health. That's about one in seven or 15.1 percent and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published. The big numbers muscle out an important back story: without government programs, poverty levels would be even worse.
Every day we hear about another economic indicator, another predictor about whether the economy is up or down, in recovery or in decline. But we don't hear about a more pressing indicator of our national health: the poverty status of our children. We don't see the faces of the many children who face tougher odds on the path to adulthood because more and more of them are growing up poor.
I'm tired of talking about poverty. I'm tired of talking about how black folks fare worse on every measure of well being. I'm tired of talking about how many are unemployed, how many don't go to college, how many are failing in school and how many children live in single-parent homes. It seems every week another entity releases yet another report that quantifies the plight of black America. Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual poverty data. Not surprisingly, given the nation's economic condition and the lack of jobs, the report reveals poverty has increased.