Census Poverty Data Reveal Disparity and Urgent Need for Congressional Action
September 14, 2011 - Posted by Avril Lighty
Census Bureau data released yesterday reveal significant increases in poverty and a weakened middle class in the United States, underscoring the urgent need for Congress to enact policies that create jobs and to protect programs that benefit low-income Americans.
The data show that there were 46.2 million people – 15.1 percent of the population – living in poverty in 2010, and there were about 50 million people without health care coverage. From 2009 to 2010, 2.6 million more Americans fell into poverty and median incomes declined by 2.3 percent, bringing the poverty rate to the highest it has been since 1993.
But the nation’s most vulnerable communities have been hit the hardest. The number of Hispanics in poverty increased from 25.3 percent to 26.6 percent; for Blacks it increased from 25.8 percent to 27.4 percent; and child poverty rose from 20.7 percent to 22 percent.
“These numbers confirm what millions of Americans have long felt. The recovery is not trickling down to the average worker, with communities of color, women, and single-parent households still feeling the harshest effects of the Great Recession,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “We cannot expect these trends to reverse themselves; concerted action is needed to create jobs and invest in vulnerable families if we are to ensure shared prosperity and opportunity for all.”
With August 2011 unemployment data showing zero job growth and stagnant unemployment, Half in Ten, the campaign to cut poverty in half in 10 years, and its partners are calling on Congress to act with urgency to create jobs through mechanisms similar to President Obama’s proposals, including continuing federal unemployment benefits, extending the payroll tax cut in a way most likely to increase employment, investing in infrastructure, creating subsidized employment opportunities for low-income workers, and providing aid to states and localities.