Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recession Over? Poverty at Record Breaking Levels!

The headlines are screaming poverty!!! The U.S. Census Bureau reports the official poverty rate for the nation for 2010 was 15.1%, up from 14.3% for 2009, with 46.2 million people in poverty, an increase of 2.6 million since 2009. Here in mid 2011, from all observations, it is most likely still rising. Record numbers are seeking assistance for their most basic needs – healthcare, food, housing.

Although the “Great Recession” officially ended in June 2009, the ranks of the poor is growing. Close to 104 million people or more than one in three were either poor or “near poor” (defined as a three person family with less than $35,000 in income in 2010). Continuing high levels of joblessness, and reduced wages hit low- and moderate-income people especially hard in 2010, with unemployment highest for those with little education, for people of color, and for woman-led households.

Poverty remains disproportionate and high for children. “We know that persistent and deep poverty threatens children’s opportunities fro a healthy productive life”, said Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs. Even with Unemployment Insurance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and SNAP/Food Stamps working to lessen the affects of living poor, more and more people continue to barely get by.

We cannot allow members of Congress who wish to reduce the federal deficit by slashing Medicaid, food stamps, and low-income tax credits to be successful. These supports have prevented some of the worst effects of living on no, or low wages. Efforts to reform should rely on supports to assist people to live and work as independently as they can, not remove supports that improved the lives of so many people in our city, region, and country.

- Dave L.