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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9012
JPY
USD
122.90
GBP
USD
0.6400
CAD
USD
1.2582
INR
USD
63.438

Rates may not be current.