For Immediate Release: September 13, 2010

Poverty Data: CLASP Experts Available to Provide Insight and Discuss Policy Solutions

This Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau will release its annual data on income, poverty and health insurance coverage. Early projections reveal this year will reflect the single largest yearly increase since Census began tracking the federal poverty rate in 1959.

CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy, experts will be available to discuss the data and its implication for children, youth and families as well as for the nation's policy priorities. Among other things, our experts can provide insight on:

Children and Poverty

In 2008, 21.3 percent (5.3 million) of children under age 6 lived in poverty and of that, 2.5 million lived in deep poverty. This year, some experts are projecting that the data will reveal that even more of our young children are living in poverty. What does this mean for children's long-term outcomes?  What are the impacts for federal and state investments in education, social services, jobs and more?

Education and Poverty
We know that income and education are inextricably linked. The less education a person has, the greater the likelihood that they will be unemployed or living in poverty. CLASP experts can discuss how part of a comprehensive solution for addressing poverty should include providing greater access to postsecondary education opportunities for disadvantaged youth and low-income, low-skill adults.

People of Color and Poverty

The disproportionate numbers of people of color in poverty, particularly at the lowest levels of poverty, have significant implications for the future of their families and the distressed communities in which they live. Youth of color in high-poverty families and communities face tragic adult outcomes if there are no interventions in place to stem the effects of poverty and provide alternative solutions that enable them to thrive. CLASP experts can discuss why comprehensive approaches grounded in local communities to meet the needs of youth are critical.

 Alleviating Immediate Hardship

Programs such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can help vulnerable families make ends meet. Use of the food stamp program increased significantly during the recession, indicating that it is responding to need. The TANF Emergency Fund has helped prevent immediate hardship by providing immediate assistance and subsidized jobs. That program is set to expire Sept. 30, however. CLASP experts can discuss how federal programs can respond to increasing poverty by strengthening programs that alleviate immediate hardship.

Employment Strategies to Reduce Poverty

Even before the Great Recession, our economy did not provide enough jobs with family-sustaining wages. One in four working families is low-income, earning wages that put them at 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less. CLASP experts can provide broad insight on how so many working people find themselves living in poverty and discuss strategies to improve family economic security for low-wage workers.

In addition to overall economic policies, government can support specific programs to create jobs and prevent layoffs.  The TANF Emergency Fund which created 250,000 subsidized jobs is due to expire by the end of September.  A work-share program that would avert layoffs is pending in Congress. Lawmakers have said they will address jobs before adjourning this fall. CLASP experts can discuss how and why jobs creation strategies must consider low-wage workers.

Poverty Measurement

Starting next year, Census will release the federal poverty data as it has been calculated for the past 51 years as well as a revised poverty measure that considers current policies as well as modern families' expenses. CLASP experts can discuss why advocates have long pushed for a more accurate measure of the nation's poverty rate.

State Government Attention to Poverty

In recent years, state governments have established poverty commissions to examine poverty and determine comprehensive solutions.  At least 10 states have set a poverty target-a goal with a timeline such as cutting poverty in half in a decade.  While the recession creates particular challenges it is notable that governments have decided that it is time to tackle poverty.  CLASP experts track these developments around the nation.




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