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

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs