Over 48 million Americans live in poverty



Over 48 million Americans live in poverty, according to a special report by the Census Bureau Thursday. It provides an alternative look at the worst off people in the nation than the official numbers that come out in September.
Government programs such as food stamps do help some people, especially children, but even so 16% of American children are living in poverty, according to the supplemental report.
“These are bad numbers,” said Robert Doar, a fellow of poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank in Washington D.C. “We can do better, we’re not doing better and that’s discouraging.”

The official poverty line was $23,283 last year for a family of four. Today’s Census report – known as the supplemental poverty measure – takes into account living costs in different parts of the country as well as what government benefits people receive.
The supplemental poverty line varies between urban and rural America. For example, the poverty level in major metropolitan levels is $30,000 or even higher in some locations because people have to pay more for food, shelter and transportation.
This more detailed look at poverty reveals an even uglier picture in some states.
California’s official poverty rate was 16% last year. Under the supplemental measure, its poverty rate is 23.4%. In other words, the high cost of living in California outweighs the government benefits poor Californians receive. Florida, New York and 10 other states saw their poverty rates rise between the official and supplemental measures.

Government benefits do make a difference for many Americans, the report shows. Food stamps and tax credits helped keep more than 13 million people out of poverty. Social Security put almost 27 million Americans out of poverty.
Conversely, out-of-pocket medical expenses are putting about 11 million people into poverty, according to the Census Bureau.
But the real issue for the poor is employment, says Doar. Although government benefits are lifting millions of people out of poverty, they are not putting people in the workforce.
“They’re not, and other policies are not, helping people work more and at higher wages so that they can escape poverty,” says Doar. Government benefits “do one thing well: they relieve material hardship. But they’re not helping people sufficiently go to work.”


Unfortunately almost everything in this world is about money; I’m a big believer that we should be working for the betterment of all mankind. You cannot take your money with you when you pass away, but good deeds are always remembered. :slight_smile:


Well said!:thumbsup: I heartily agree.:slight_smile:


There will always be about 15% of Americans below the poverty line, because the poverty line constantly rises as average income rises. In other words, poverty is relative. So if every man, woman and child earned a million dollars a year, there would still be about 50 million Americans, all millionaires, below the poverty line. That’s not to say there isn’t poverty in America. Of course there is. But the so-called poverty line is meaningless.


I didn’t know that, Cone! That is interesting. It reminds me of something my friend John joked about the other day. He said, “You know how dumb the average person is? Well, statistically speaking, half of them are even dumber than that!”:slight_smile:


I’m not going to argue what the data means, but your claim of 15% always being below the poverty line, and poverty being based on average income is not quite accurate.

The US government has always measured poverty, not by the income of a person or family relative to mean income, but to the relationship of the personal or family income to meet basic subsistence needs (food, shelter, etc.).

(according to University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty), in the U.S., in 2012 (most recent data available), the poverty rate was 15.0%.

Since statistics have been tracked, here are the rates:

1914 - 66%
1932 - 72%
1947 - 32%
1958 - 24%

Since 1968 there has been a consistent increase in child poverty, a dramatic decrease in elder poverty, and consistently high rates among persons of African American or Hispanic ancestry.poverty, the dramatic decrease in elder poverty, and the consistently high poverty rates among African Americans and persons of Hispanic.


Wasn’t the “War on Poverty” begun in 1965 with Johnson’s “Great Society?”

It seems federal dollars don’t help at all. Here is what I have been reading about poverty:

The doctor and consultant psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple looks at Great Britain - the nation which produced Newton and Darwin, Shakespeare and Dickens, David Hume and Adam Smith - and marvels at what it has become.

Its inner cities and council estates are places where ‘the whole gamut of human folly, wickedness, and misery may be perused at leisure… abortions procured by abdominal kung fu; children who have children; women abandoned by the father of their child a month before or a month after delivery; insensate jealousy; serial stepfatherhood that leads to sexual and physical abuse of children on a mass scale.’

We have lost our values.


Perhaps that’s what the data bears out…but even more disappointing and disturbing is that despite all the claims that faith based charitable programs would solve the problem, they haven’t either…probably because there are far more hearers (and sayers) of the word, than doers.

Food banks are a prime example…we fill them up between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and don’t give a thought about it the rest of the year.


Here in Seattle it seems like 90% of the food banks and other charities are Catholic. My perception is there would be people starving in the street without the various Catholic-based organizations…


One of the biggest problems with how “poverty” is calculated by the Census Bureau is that it is solely based on cash income, but totally ignores in-kind payments. So you are considered in poverty if you have a sugar-daddy who pays the rent/utilities/etc on your $10,000/mo apartment, buys all of your clothes, shoes & jewelry, and gives you $500/mo cash. The cash would be considered your only source of income.

The working poor are the ones who get screwed over by the calculation because they earn all of their income and can come in over the poverty line, whereas someone sitting on their rump doing nothing, yet living higher on the hog than them is considered in poverty.

There are better measures of poverty, such as the consumption method, which takes into account how much a family spends and not how much they earn. Of course this doesn’t take into account the amount of debt that one goes into for those racking up credit cards to pay for their expensive lifestyle. But, it seems a far fairer method than the income based method. :shrug:


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