As poverty in the United States climbed to 46.2 million people last year – the highest number since the Census Bureau began publishing figures on it 52 years ago – “[m]inorities were hardest hit. Blacks experienced the highest poverty rate, at 27 percent, up from 25 percent in 2009, and Hispanics rose to 26 percent from 25 percent. For whites, 9.9 percent lived in poverty, up from 9.4 percent in 2009.” Sabrina Tavernise, Poverty Rate Soars to Highest Level Since 1993, N.Y. Times, Sept. 14, 2011, at A1. The increases were even greater in New York City. Sam Roberts, As Effects of Recession Linger, Growth in City’s Poverty Rate Outpaces the Nation’s, N.Y. Times, Sept. 22, 2011, at A23.
As was also recently pointed out, the Occupy Wall Street “protesters picked the right city in which to start their campaign. Among the 1 percent of American households with the highest income, a significant portion, 13 percent, live in the New York metropolitan area, with 4.4 percent living in Manhattan, according to an analysis by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College.” Sam Roberts, As the Data Show, There’s a Reason the Protesters Chose New York, N.Y. Times, Oct. 26, 2011, at A23.
Another 2.6 million people slipped into poverty in the United States last year, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, and the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it.
… The past decade was also marked by a growing gap between the very top and very bottom of the income ladder. Median household income for the bottom tenth of the income spectrum fell by 12 percent from a peak in 1999, while the top 90th percentile dropped by just 1.5 percent. Overall, median household income adjusted for inflation declined by 2.3 percent in 2010 from the previous year, to $49,445. That was 7 percent less than the peak of $53,252 in 1999. Part of the income decline over time is because of the smaller size of the American family.
This year is not likely to be any better, economists said. Stimulus money has largely ended, and state and local governments have made deep cuts to staff and to budgets for social programs, both likely to move economically fragile families closer to poverty.
Minorities were hit hardest. Blacks experienced the highest poverty rate, at 27 percent, up from 25 percent in 2009, and Hispanics rose to 26 percent from 25 percent. For whites, 9.9 percent lived in poverty, up from 9.4 percent in 2009. Asians were unchanged at 12.1 percent.
And last month, PBS ran a strong piece as part of an occasional series on inequality in America:
Julianne Hing at Colorlines reported on the findings of the Annie E. Casey Foundation 2011 Kids Count Data Book (which tracks indicators of child welfare such as poverty, infant mortality rates and school achievement) showing that one in five U.S. kids are living in poverty, but “for kids of color, the numbers are much worse. More than one in three black kids—a full 36 percent of black youth—live in poverty and 31 percent of Latino kids lives in poverty.”
What’s more, researchers are beginning to track the links between poverty and kids’ psychological and educational development. Researchers at Cornell University have found that kids who grow up in poverty are deeply affected by the instability of their home lives, and those environmental stressors hamper their ability to excel in school. It seems intuitive, but there’s growing evidence that there’s, in fact, a causal relationship between family income and kids’ academic success.
The number of Americans receiving food stamps rose to a record 45.753 million in May, up 2.5 percent from the previous month, the Department of Agriculture said. Recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program subsidies for food purchases were 12 percent higher than a year earlier, the Agriculture Department said Tuesday in a statement on its Web site.
Forget job retraining or back-to-school money or even another stimulus package. An employment center in central Florida has the answer to ending the Sunshine State’s chronic unemployment problem: Red super-hero capes.
Yes, that’s right. As WFTV Orlando reports, a new marketing initiative unveiled by an outfit called Workforce Central Florida (self-described as the “region’s workforce expert”) called the “Cape-ability Challenge” gives red capes to jobless Floridians as a way to boost their job-seeking prospects. The state-funded workforce organization reportedly spent $14,000 on 6,000 capes as part of the campaign, which a state workforce group called “insensitive and wasteful.” The capes fit in with Workforce Central Florida’s comic book-inspired campaign that features a villain named “Dr. Evil Unemployment.”
Now, the state is investigating Workforce Central Florida over the cape campaign. Hmm, wonder why. Here’s more from WFTV:
The newest allegation of misspending involves a marketing campaign, in which the chairman of the board for the job agency marches around in a super-hero cape.
Job-seekers such as Gregory Bryant said the capes are a waste of money and they’re offended by the cartoon-like portrayal of being unemployed.
“Would you wear this around?” WFTV reporter Bianca Castro asked Bryant.
“No, I mean, would you?” Bryant answered. “It’s a mockery to Americans.”
The bizarre campaign, however, didn’t last long. In a Wednesday press release, the group announced it was canning the cape idea, which it described as an “admittedly out-of-the-box creative campaign.”
Nearly a year and a half into the economic recovery, some 43.6 million Americans continued to rely on food stamps in November.
More than 14% of the population drew food stamps in November to purchase groceries as high unemployment and muted wage growth crimped budgets. The number of recipients was up 0.9% from October, according to the new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Compared to a year ago, the number of people receiving food stamps was up 14.2%.
In both Washington, D.C. and Mississippi more than a fifth of residents received food stamps — the highest recipiency rates of any state.
But demand has grown stronger in the past year in a handful of other states that recorded significant increases on a per capita basis.
In New Mexico, 19.4% of the population tapped into food stamps. That’s up 3.2 percentage points from the same month a year ago, the largest increase for any state. Idaho reported a similar jump: 14% of residents received food stamps, up 3.1 points from a year ago. Washington, D.C., Florida, Delaware and Texas all experienced similar year over year increases.