More Americans in Poverty Than Ever Before
Government cutbacks in a time with more poverty?
The Census data show that in 2010, real median household income decreased by 2.3 percent from 2009. The nation saw the largest total number of people living in poverty ever -- 46.2 million -- contributing to a poverty rate of 15.1 percent, up 0.8 percentage points from 2009.
Additionally, a more detailed look at the numbers shows some of the more staggering realities of poverty in
The prospects for relief look grim, says
Greenstein also acknowledges another large problem facing the economy: that of skyrocketing deficits.
"The nation needs strong, long-term deficit reduction, but policymakers can achieve it without increasing poverty," he says.
The figures illustrate the impossible dilemma facing lawmakers. While large deficits and high debt might threaten the economy, so, too, does an impoverished population, and government spending keeps many Americans from hardship. The Census numbers show the extent to which government transfers to individuals keep poverty from spiraling out of control. Unemployment benefits keep 3.2 million Americans out of poverty. Without
Of course, politicians are not going to cut
The data thus bear heavily on current policy debates. A key portion of President Obama's new jobs plan, for example, focuses on once again extending unemployment benefits. It would seem, then, that extending those benefits is a no-brainer. But those benefits may have to be extended several times over, as returning to full employment could take a particularly long time.
According to Christopher, America's jobs problem is structural; that is, it's caused by a mismatch between workers' skills and jobs available. Low-skill jobs that have gone overseas, he says, "are not going to come back, at least not at a very fast rate." This will cause not only more income inequality, he says, but a particularly slow return to normal employment as the nation tries to create a more educated workforce.
President Obama has attempted to address that question with a new worker training program, also among the proposals in his jobs bill. But such a program might only see limited success.
"There's a bunch of people who are really not trained to do anything," says Christopher. "[Retraining them] takes a tremendous amount of time. You can't take a construction worker and turn them into a computer programmer. How that works is a very difficult question."
Until these difficult questions of worker retraining, wage growth, and job creation are answered, in short, Americans can expect to see more and more of their compatriots slip below the poverty threshold.
- Two Cheers and One Jeer for the American Jobs Act
- Obama Jobs Plan Seems to Get a Boost From CBO Chief
- Will Obama's Jobs Plan Help Small Business Hire More?
- More Americans in Poverty Than Ever Before
- Why Consumers Aren't Spending
- Republicans Keep Helping Wall Street and Banks Over Main Street
- 5 Political Lessons of the Economic Downturn
- First Medicare, Now Paul Ryan Tackles Tax Code
- GOP Economic Plan Unlikely to Find Much Common Ground With Dems
- With Poverty on the Rise, This is No Time to Slash the Safety Net
- Vote on Disputed Trade Bill Could Be Hitched to Jobs Retraining
- Obama Vows to Do Away with Millionaire Tax Cuts and Reduce Deficit
- Has the Housing Market Finally Found Its Footing?
- Fed May 'Twist' Balance Sheet to Promote Recovery
- In Jobs Speech, Obama Passes the Buck to Congress
- Refinancing Out of Reach for Many Americans
- Self-employed Americans Down by 2.1 Million
- Government Needs to Help Job Creators and Middle Class Consumers
- Back to School and Deeper in Debt
- Will Obama Sabotage Jobs Plan With Job-Killing Free-Trade Agreements?
- Don't Fear the Double-Dip Recession
- Five Key Economic Battles Await Congress
- Feeling Stressed About The Economy? You're Not Alone
- Building an Infrastructure Builds Jobs
- Is Infrastructure the Answer to America's Jobs Problem?
- Investing in Education Is Smart Business
- STEM Education - It's Elementary
- We Need a Bold Jobs Bill to Stop the Double-Dip
- Could QE3 Help the Economy?
- What Kinds of Federal Spending Create the Most Good Jobs?
- Who's Worse Off: Europe or the United States?
- China and the United States' Debt
- Jobs Issue Plays Into Defense Cuts Argument
- Economists Forecast 2.3 Percent Growth Rate
- Why Standard and Poor's Had to Downgrade
- Who's Next on Standard and Poor's Chopping Block?
- Who Stands for Americans?
- Has The United States Economy Turned Into a Pyramid Scheme?
- Defense Industry Threatens America's Economy
- America Downgraded!
- What Standard and Poor's Ratings Downgrade Means
- The Disconnect Between Stocks and the Economy
- How the Government Is Killing Job Creation
- Along with Lack of Jobs, A Wage Problem
- Jobs Picture Better Than Expected Except for Government Workers
- What The Economy Looks Like at Stall Speed
- Is a Double-Dip Recession on the Horizon?
- Job Numbers Go From Grim to Ghastly
- Cities Where the Job Outlook Is Improving
- Obama Should Take a Lesson from George H.W. Bush
- The Only Social Security Reform Worth Considering
- Crisis of Confidence: Debt Debate Erodes US Global Standing
- Global Economic Downturn: A Crisis of Political Economy
- The Rise of the Wrecking-Ball Right
- Housing Starts Are Up, but Don't Cheer Just Yet
- Could the Employment Picture Be Better than the Government Reports?
- Many Ideas for Job Creation, but Little Action
- Eliminating Mortgage Interest Deduction Could Further Hobble Housing Recovery
- New Mortgage Limits: Another Hurdle for the Housing Market?
- Markets Spike on Bernanke Talk of 'QE3'
- Can 'Gang of Six' Save the Day on Debt Ceiling?
- Do We Need the Debt Ceiling?
- European Debt Crisis: Could Italy Be Next?
- It's Back! The Misery Index Rides Again
- The President's Jobs Plan
- Budget Debate Has Troublesome Historical Underpinnings
- 4 Bright Spots for the American Economy
- Job Growth Dismal, Unemployment Hits 9.2 Percent in June
- Why Small Businesses Aren't Fueling Job Creation in This Recovery
- Public Sector Job Cuts Threaten Economic Recovery
- Handling Big Contradictions
- How the Crippled Housing Market Affects Job Seekers
- Think Startups are Fueling the Recovery? Not So Much
- Tax Havens: Shady Deals
- As The 'Mancession' Peters Out, The 'Race-Cession' Is Still Going Strong
- Obama Trains Spotlight on Flailing Economy
- Strategic Petroleum Reserve Release Could Give Brief Economic Stimulus
- What to Watch for As QE2 Ends
- How Health Care Can Save or Sink America
- Crude Predicament: The Era of Volatile Oil Prices
- Financial Rebalancing Act: Stop Worrying About Global Flow of Capital
- Globalization and Unemployment
Available at Amazon.com:
More Americans in Poverty Than Ever Before | Politics
(c) 2011 U.S. News & World Report