Category Archives: Poverty

The 2011 HHS Poverty Guidelines One Version of the [U.S.] Federal Poverty Measure

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2011

Federal Register Notice, January 20, 2011 — Full text
Prior Poverty Guidelines and Federal Register References Since 1982
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Further Resources on Poverty Measurement, Poverty Lines, and Their History
Computations for the 2011 Poverty Guidelines

Reaching Those In Need: State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates in 2008

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, December 2010

From the summary:
One important measure of a program’s performance is the ability to reach its target population. This report – the latest in an annual series – presents estimates of the percentage of eligible persons, by State, who participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during an average month in fiscal year 2008 and in the 2 previous fiscal years.

This report also presents estimates of State participation rates for eligible “working poor” individuals (persons in households with earnings) over the same period. Although SNAP provides an important support for working families, the working poor has participated at rates that are substantially below those for all eligible persons. The addition of State-by-State information on participation among the working poor enables a comparison of these rates to the overall participation rates.

Nationally, the SNAP participation rate among all eligible persons was 67 percent (Leftin, 2010) in fiscal year 2008.1 The participation rate for eligible working poor individuals was significantly lower (in a statistical sense) at 54 percent.

State of Working America 2011

Source: Economic Policy Institute, February 14, 2011

The State of Working America has been the Economic Policy Institute’s flagship publication since 1988. The comprehensive economic data that has in the past been in book form is now available on this Web site for the first time in a searchable and highly user-friendly format. The data will be more accessible than ever before to academics, policy makers, the media, and the public. Unlike in the past, this year’s The State of Working America will not be published in book form (the next biennial print edition will appear in January 2013).

The State of Working America Web site presents data in eight broad issue areas: income, economic mobility, wages, jobs, wealth, poverty, health, and international comparisons. Providing a comprehensive examination of critical trends and economic measurements, the data on this site is presented to give readers a deep understanding of the effect of the economy on low- and middle-income American workers and their families.

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.
See also:

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.
See also:
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.
See also:
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.