Resources from around the Coalition: Poverty data edition
In the wake of the Census Bureau’s release of data on poverty, CHN members have been hard at work organizing their analysis of the data into reports and articles. Many reports echo a similar sentiment: a lot of progress has been made in improving the poverty rate, but there is more that needs to be done. CHN has highlighted below several articles that caught our eye and that we wanted to share.
- RESULTS released a high-level overview of the Census data showing that poverty declined from 14.8 percent in 2014 to 13.5 percent in 2015. Ultimately, 3.5 million less people were in poverty. However, 1 in 10 households lived in extreme poverty with incomes below $13,300. Noting that a large portion of the reduction in poverty can be credited to anti-poverty programs like tax credits and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), they set up an online system allowing advocates to write a letter to the editor of local papers supporting bipartisan efforts to expand these tax credits. The Census Bureau’s graph below, highlighted by RESULTS, clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs by showing the number of people lifted out of poverty by each program.
- The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a report stating that 2015 saw an increase in annual income of $2,062 for the average American household, and breaking down state-level income increases. Incomes finally began to recover after years of stagnant wages, but annual incomes across the nation still had not returned to where they were before the Great Recession. To continue this upward trend in compensation, policymakers must continue to prioritize policies that raise wages.
- The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) also put out a report on Census poverty data, with an infographic to illustrate overarching themes. CLASP noted the drop in poverty rates and number of Americans without insurance, but also raised concerns over the high number of children that experienced poverty in 2015. The child poverty rate remains worse than it was before the recession as one in five children lived in poverty last year. Even more alarming, children under 5 continued to have the highest poverty rate among children. The article concludes with five steps to expand anti-poverty policies to help lower the poverty rate and allow Americans to achieve greater economic mobility.
- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released a blog piece highlighting the importance of safety net programs in reducing poverty. In 2015, anti-poverty programs pulled 38 million people above the poverty line, cutting the poverty rate in half. This poverty cut occurred across all age, racial and ethnic groups and is hard evidence that safety net programs are not only effective, but necessary in keeping the poverty rate from skyrocketing. CBPP urges policymakers to consider that cutting anti-poverty programs will dramatically raise the poverty rate.
- The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) also put out several articles and graphics detailing their own unique take on how Census data reflect poverty and women. The NWLC reports that women have a 35 percent higher chance of living in poverty than men, with the poverty gap between genders the largest for millennial women.
- The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) published a graph that raises concerns over the wage gap women experience when their earnings are compared to men’s. The graph shows that at the rate we are going, women should not expect to have equal pay until 2059.
- Finally, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published a piece that sparks a conversation about the issues in the poverty threshold and what the poverty data fails to capture. It’s important to note that the poverty threshold is already set too low. For a family of four to be considered below the poverty line, they must have an income of about $24,000 or less. The EPI’s budget calculator estimates that a family of that size would need to make $50,000 to achieve a basic standard of living. This is more than double the poverty threshold. Additionally, the national Census data released only measures a point in time last year, when in reality poverty is a moving target that many experience at different periods of their lives. Poverty cannot be framed as an “us” and “them” conversation with the poor cyclically stuck in poverty. Poverty is a fluctuating target with people moving above and below the poverty threshold every day.
For more Census poverty data and analysis, visit CHN’s resource page and read CHN’s national report, The High Cost of Being Poor in the US. Stay tuned for upcoming blogs covering the great work CHN’s state partners are doing to highlight issues of poverty and the high cost of being poor in their states.