Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Based on New Census Measure, Number of Americans in Poverty at Record High

As as a congressional super committee nears a November 23rd deadline to make more than $1 trillion in cuts to the federal budget, an experimental measure that takes geographic location into account yields highest-ever number of poor Americans. 49.1 million are poor, based on a new census measure that for the first time takes into account rising medical costs and other expenses.

Moreover, using the old supplemental poverty measure, one in fifteen - 6.7% of the population - are among America's poorest poor..  Data shows about 20.5 million Americans make up the poorest poor, defined as those at 50% or less of the official poverty level.

Poverty for Americans 65-years and older is on track to nearly double after factoring in rising out-of-pocket medical expenses.   Poverty increases are also anticipated for the working-age population because of commuting and child-care costs, while child poverty will dip partly due to the positive effect of food stamps...that's if those food stamps survive the cuts.
"There now really is no unaffected group, except maybe the very top income earners," said Robert Moffitt, a professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University. "Recessions are supposed to be temporary, and when it's over, everything returns to where it was before. But the worry now is that the downturn - which will end eventually - will have long-lasting effects on families who lose jobs, become worse off and can't recover."


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