Category Archives: Poverty

U.S. Conference of Mayors 2010 Status Report on Hunger & Homelessness

Source: U.S. Conference of Mayors, December 2010

From the press release:
The survey will include results from 27 of America’s major cities (listed below) that highlight the impact of hunger and homelessness in metropolitan centers in the United States. For the past 23 years, The Conference of Mayors has reported on the status of hunger and homelessness in our nation’s cities, as well as the programs offered by many cities to help people in need of food, shelter and emergency assistance.
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More Than One in Ten American Households Relies on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance

Source: Jessica A. Bean, Marybeth J. Mattingly, Carsey Institute, Issue Brief, December 14, 2010

From the abstract:
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the most responsive federal programs to economic downturns, as evidence by the increases in SNAP use between 2007 and 2009. Nationally, more than one in ten households relies on SNAP benefits, and the rate is even higher in rural areas, with more than 13 percent of households reporting use. This brief examines the trends in SNAP use across the United States since the recession began in 2007 and considers the impact of legislation in the Congress on those who rely on SNAP to make ends meet.

3.3 Million People Kept Out of Poverty with Unemployment Benefits in 2009

Source: National Employment Law Project, Press Release, September 17, 2010 

The U.S. Census Bureau announced yesterday that during 2009, 3.3 million people, including 1 million children, were kept out of poverty with income support provided through unemployment insurance (UI). That’s 3.67 times the number of people whose incomes were kept above poverty levels during 2008, when unemployment benefits resulted in keeping 900,000 out of poverty. Moreover the protection from poverty provided by UI program in 2009 covered 2.8 million more Americans than it did in 2007 when the recession began.
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Census Data Show Large Jump in Poverty and the Ranks of the Uninsured in 2009
Source: Arloc Sherman, Danilo Trisi, Robert Greenstein and Matt Broaddus, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, September 17, 2010
Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States: 2009
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, September 2010

Lies, Damn Lies, & Poverty Statistics: The Census Bureau Is Right to Reconsider the Official Poverty Line

Source: Jeannette Wicks-Lim, Dollars and Sense, no. 289, July/August 2010

Statistics matter. Take the newly popularized statistic, the “under­employment rate,” that the media began to report during the Great Recession. This rate adds part-time workers who can’t find the full-time work they want and people who have given up looking for work altogether to the officially unemployed. In April the underemployment rate reached 17%, indicating that workers are feel­ing the economic downturn more severely than suggested by the 9.9% official unemployment rate. The official poverty line similarly misses the mark in measuring economic suffering in the United States. Poverty experts have long recognized that the poverty income threshold published by the Census Bureau marks an excessively severe level of economic deprivation. But the problem isn’t just that the pov­erty line is too low. Anyone can multiply the poverty line by two and use that to define poverty; that’s how eligibility for subsidy programs like reduced-price school lunches is determined. The offi­cial poverty line, however, actually rep­resents a living standard that deterio­rates year after year.

Why Did Poverty Drop for the Elderly?

Source: Alicia H. Munnell, April Wu, and Josh Hurwitz, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Issue Brief, IB#10-16, September 2010

From the abstract:
The Census Bureau just reported a large increase in poverty in the United States. Driven by job loss and long-term unemployment, the poverty rate rose from 13.2 percent to 14.3 percent, as 3.7 million more Americans found themselves with incomes below the poverty threshold. Individuals aged 55-64 followed the national trend as they shared in job losses. Those 65 and over, however, saw a decline in their poverty rate. This outcome was the result of the timing of two different adjustments to reflect changes in consumer prices – an extraordinarily large cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) awarded to Social Security beneficiaries in 2009 and a decline in the index used to adjust the poverty threshold for 2009. This pattern is likely to be reversed in the future as Social Security beneficiaries receive no COLAs in 2010 and 2011 and the poverty threshold increases.
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The Not-So-Golden Years – Confronting Elderly Poverty and Improving Seniors’ Economic Security
Source: Alexandra Cawthorne, Center for American Progress, September 27, 2010

Credit Where Credit is (Over) Due

Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), September 2010

State tax systems have the potential to play an important role in curbing the impact of poverty and ensuring economic security for all residents. Unfortunately, state tax policy as it is currently structured usually works directly contrary to these goals, and creates an uneven playing field for low-income workers. In most states, truly remedying this unfairness would require fundamental tax reform. Short of this, however, lawmakers can utilize their states’ tax systems as a means of providing affordable and targeted assistance to the growing number of people and families living in poverty. Virtually every state could jump-start their anti-poverty efforts with relatively little effort by enacting one or more of these four proven and effective tax reforms: Refundable state Earned Income Tax Credits, property tax circuit breakers, targeted low-income credits, and child-related tax credits.

Earning More, Receiving Less: Loss of Benefits and Child Hunger

Source: Annie Gayman, Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, John T. Cook, Elizabeth L. March, Sharon Coleman, Mariana Chilton, and Deborah A. Frank, Children’s HealthWatch, September 2010

New research from Children’s HealthWatch shows that increases in income that trigger loss of public assistance benefits can leave young children without enough food to eat. Families that have been cut off from SNAP or TANF when their income exceeds eligibility limits are more likely to experience levels of food insecurity that require reducing the size or frequency of children’s meals compared to those currently receiving benefits. Previous research has demonstrated that both SNAP and TANF reduce the likelihood of food insecurity. Income eligibility guidelines should be re-examined to ensure that a modest increase in income does not disqulaify a family from the benefits they need to keep their children healthy and well-fed. Families that successfully increase their earnings should not find themselves worse off due to a resulting loss of benefits.

Childhood Poverty Persistence: Facts and Consequences

Source: Caroline Ratcliffe, Signe-Mary McKernan, Urban Institute, June 30, 2010

From the abstract:
The U.S. child poverty rate has fluctuated between 15 and 23 percent for the past four decades, but far more children–37 percent–live in poverty at some point during their childhoods. Being poor at birth strongly predicts future poverty status. Using the PSID, this study finds that 49 percent of children who are poor at birth go on to spend at least half their childhoods living in poverty. In addition, children who are born into poverty and spend multiple years living in poor families have worse adult outcomes than their counterparts in higher-income families.
Born Poor? Half of These Babies Will Spend Most of Their Childhoods in Poverty; Significantly More Likely to Be Poor 30 Years Later

Poverty Among Women and Families, 2000-2009: Great Recession Brings Highest Rate in 15 Years

Source: National Women’s Law Center, September 2010

From the summary:
The latest Census Bureau data show a significant and alarming increase in poverty and extreme poverty among women, men and children in the United States in 2009. Poverty among women rose to 13.9 percent, up from 13.0 percent in 2008 — the highest rate in 15 years and the largest single-year increase since 1980. More than 16.4 million women were living in poverty in 2009, the largest number since the Census began collecting this data in 1966. Poverty among children also reached a 15-year high, rising from 19.0 percent in 2008 to 20.7 percent in 2009. These increases mirror the rise in the overall poverty rate from 13.2 percent to 14.3 percent in 2009, also the largest single-year increase since 1980.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish – Why Tackling Child Poverty During the Great Recession Makes Economic Sense

Source: Harry J. Holzer, Center for American Progress, September 16, 2010

From the summary:
Children who grow up poor in America end up worse off as adults than those who do not grow up poor along a variety of dimensions, including poorer health, lower education, and lower earnings.
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