News / USA

US Poverty Rates Grow

Current economic hardships have hit American men particularly hard
Current economic hardships have hit American men particularly hard
Nico Colombant

Government officials, advocacy groups and economists in the United States are grappling with solutions to reduce high poverty rates.  The U.S. Census Bureau says that last year, the number of poor Americans was the highest since such data started being collected five decades ago.  

People living in poverty in the United States in 2009 was 14.3 percent, according to the Census Bureau, nearly a full percentage point higher than the previous year.

In terms of overall numbers, the bureau says 43.6 million people last year were living in poverty, which is defined as a yearly income of less than $22,000 for a family of four.

Avis Jones-DeWeever of the National Council of Negro Women examined the data closely and says that more than one in four African Americans and Hispanics in the United States live in poverty as well as one in five children.

"Frankly, these statistics need to serve as a wake-up call for America," said Avis Jones-DeWeever. "The time is now to once again mount a serious attack on poverty.  In fact, this imperative might be more critical now than ever, given what I would characterize as the tattered state of our safety net."

But at a panel of poverty analysts meeting in Washington this week, the director of Deloitte Consulting, Wade Horn, warned that the U.S. political environment is not conducive to more government spending.

"I am not sure that we are in a political context at the moment in which it is an easy sell to dramatically increase government spending," said Wade Horn. "In fact, given the focus on the debt and the deficit, I think we may be at the beginning of a retrenchment in government spending, not an expansion of government spending."

Horn called for aggressive government economic policies to create job growth in the private sector, while pursuing anti-poverty strategies.

The high poverty rate comes amid high unemployment, particularly in male-dominated sectors of the economy, such as construction and manufacturing.

Avis Jones-DeWeever of the National Council of Negro Women says this makes equal rights issues regarding women even more pressing.

"I do think it is important that people look at how well women do because for many two-parent families, they are now the only ones working," said Jones-DeWeever. "And so it is that much more important that women receive pay equity and get fair pay because it not only benefits them, it benefits their entire family."

LaDonna Pavetti from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said several U.S. states have initiated programs to subsidize jobs in the private sector, with great success.

"What we have seen with these programs is that they have been a huge benefit, particularly to small businesses," said LaDonna Pavetti. "And what has happened in those small businesses is that it has allowed them to be able to keep their businesses moving during times of low demand.  And it has allowed some businesses to expand so that they are actually creating new jobs by that."

Pavetti said that many of these programs are running out of money, and that hundreds of thousands of people who have been employed might lose their jobs.

But Nicholas Eberstadt with the American Enterprise Institute warned against making government subsidized employment a permanent part of the U.S. economy.

"Many of the Western European countries that have pursued some of these programs, over time, you see labor force rigidities and barriers to entry actually developing there," said Nicholas Eberstadt. "So I think you have to be very cautious about this."

President Barack Obama says his economic policies, such as stimulus spending, are keeping millions more Americans out of poverty.  The president has blamed the policies by his predecessor, George W. Bush, for creating the current economic hardships of many Americans.  But opposition Republicans say huge government spending has made the situation worse.

The new poverty figures come only weeks before November's Congressional midterm elections.   

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid