News / Economy

Nearly 1 in 7 Americans is Impoverished

Report by U.S. Census Bureau
Report by U.S. Census Bureau
Barbie Izquierdo is a single mom.  She has lived her whole life at or near the poverty level, and her children - ages 4 and 6 - have suffered.

“It was hard trying to put them to bed or force them to go to bed without eating as much as they wanted to just because I was trying to save up for the next day, and many times it meant going to bed with nothing to eat myself, just so they could have something to eat.”

The U.S. Census Bureau Tuesday released a comprehensive report on poverty and income in the U.S. It shows  Izquierdo's family is among the 46.5 million people who last year were living at or below the poverty line - that's $23,550 for a family of four. Those new census figures released for 2012 show no significant changes from the year before.  Census researchers say the U.S. is still trying to recover from 2007, the year before the recession.  

Changing Government

Michael Tanner is with the conservative CATO Institute.  He says it points to an inept government.

“We are spending close to $1 trillion every year at the fed and state level on anti-poverty programs and yet we’ve had minimal effectiveness at reducing poverty.  It would suggest that we aren’t being as good as we can, and maybe we should look at different solutions.”

Income Figures

Census figures show the median household income in the United States last year was just over $51,000.  David Johnson is the chief of the Census Bureau’s Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division.

“Since 2007, the year before the most recent recession, median household income has declined 8.3 percent and was 9 percent below its all-time high achieved in 1999.”

Breakdown by Ethnicity

Johnson says Asian households have the highest income among ethnic groups at 68,000. Hispanics and blacks make about half that much. Johnson says those figures aren’t much different from last year's and show the country hasn’t recovered from pre-recession levels.  

Food Stamps Threatened

Izquierdo says what pulled her out of her worst poverty were food stamps, now called the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) Program. Congress is considering cutting $40 billion over 10 years from SNAP, to cut excess and abuse through stricter eligibility requirements.

Bob Aiken is president and chief executive officer of Feeding America, a domestic hunger relief organization.  

"That means 1.5 billion meals will be lost each year for hungry families for the next 10 years."

But Cato’s Tanner says Washington says the program can't keep growing.

“We’ve gone from 17 million people receiving food in 2000 - to just over a decade later - we have 48 million people on food stamps.  Yet, the evidence is not there that we are doing a particularly good job of reducing hunger or increasing nutritional value.”

Izquierdo says that for the richest country in the world.....assistance should start at on its own shores.

“If we want to set a good example as a strong country, we need to make sure that our foundation is strong.  And our foundation can’t be strong if our children aren’t getting enough to eat, because those are our next leaders."

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8140
JPY
USD
118.81
GBP
USD
0.6402
CAD
USD
1.1597
INR
USD
63.066

Rates may not be current.