There are nearly 50 million Americans who now live below the poverty line. That translates to 49.7 million total. Furthermore, and just as shocking, nearly 80% of the entire U.S. population is now living near poverty or below it.
This startling new statistic is means that 80% of the population is struggling with joblessness, or with near-poverty. Many of them are relying on government assistance to help pay the bills or feed their families. Without that assistance, this near-poverty statistic means that they too would be poor.
The Associated Press noted that a growing gap between rich and poor was indicated by the data.
In spite of claims that things are getting better, the loss of good-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector which used to provide a living wage for what used to be the “Working Class” is the likely cause of the increasing trend towards poverty in America.
According to a revised census released last Wednesday, the census total is 3 million higher than what was previously thought. This adjustment caused a reevaluation of the poverty data.
Out-of-pocket medical costs as well work-related expenses have now been factored in. The adjusted data is “considered more reliable by social scientists because it factors in living expenses as well as the effects of government aid, such as food stamps and tax credits,” Hope Yen said, reporting for the Associated Press.
The reassessed data also tells that 5 million people were helped by food stamps to barely keep their heads above the poverty line.
Without the food stamp supplements, the actual poverty rate would be even higher. That means the number of very poor Americans would rise from 16 percent to 17.6 percent.
In terms of minority communities in the United States, Latino and Asian Americans increased in poverty since the last reports measured U.S. poverty. The rates in these communities rose to 27.8 percent and 16.7 percent respectively. Previously they had been 25.8 percent and 11.8 percent according to government estimates.
African-Americans communities, however, dropped slightly from 27.3 percent to 25.8 percent.
The government study suggests that this change is wholly due to government assistance programs, still painting a bleak picture, as Republican politicians have repeatedly voted to cut such programs.
Non-Hispanic white rates of poverty rose from 9.8 percent to 10.7 percent.
“The primary reason that poverty remains so high,” Sheldon Danziger said. Sheldon is a University of Michigan economist who noted that “the benefits of a growing economy are no longer being shared by all workers as they were in the quarter-century following the end of World War II.”
“Given current economic conditions,” Sheldon elaborated, “poverty will not be substantially reduced unless government does more to help the working poor.”
Sadly, while 80% of the population is just barely managing to stay above the poverty line, politicians continue to propose cuts to the very programs that seem to be keeping so many afloat.
(Article by R. Abraham; photo via Associated Press)