by Umar Farooq
The official poverty measure was developed in U.S. in the 1960s in conjunction with President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Each September the U.S. Census Bureau releases an update of the national poverty rate for the prior year.
The official poverty rate is 13.5 percent, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 estimates. That year, an estimated 43.1 million Americans lived in poverty according to the official measure. According to supplemental poverty measure, the poverty rate was 14.3 percent.
It is a well-known fact that in the U.S. women have higher poverty rates compared to men, even among those who work at least half the year, women are more likely to be in poverty.
The “Idle Army” of unworking men, as AEI scholar Nicholas Eberstadt called them, has received well-deserved attention over the past year, but women leaving the labor market has become a problem as well. After five decades of increases, the share of women in the labor market today is at the lowest level since 1988.
“The devastating recession that began at the end of 2007 and officially ended in June 2009 was the most severe downturn since World War II. The political, social and even medical consequences of this recession have been duly noted, but even so the depths of its effects are only now becoming clear. One we’re still learning more about is how the rural, less populated regions of the country (known among demographers as nonmetropolitan counties), which already suffered from higher than average poverty rates, recovered from the recession at a far slower pace than more populous metropolitan counties. The fact that people living outside big cities were battered so acutely by the recession goes a long way toward explaining President Trump’s victory in the last election.” nytimes
The diverging fortunes of metropolitan counties and virtually all nonmetro regions of the country are graphically displayed in the accompanying chart produced by the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The chart below shows that since the bottom of the recession in the fourth quarter of 2009, metropolitan areas have fully bounced back and are now significantly above their pre-recession employment levels. In contrast, employment in non-metro areas remains well below its pre-recession level.
According to 2015 US Census Data, the highest poverty rate by race is found among Blacks (24.1%), with Hispanics (of any race) having the second highest poverty rate (21.4%). Whites had a poverty rate of 9%, while Asians had a poverty rate at 11.4%. In 2015, 19.7% of all children (14.5 million kids) lived in Poverty USA—that’s about 1 in every 5 children.
Equal distribution of wealth and a focus on skill development can eliminate the poverty. Lawmakers need to devise policies that ensure safe and healthy lifestyle for every segment of the society.
by Umar Farooq