Numbers released from the Census Bureau paint a bleak picture of American economic health. In 2010 the poverty rate has spiked to 15.1 percent, the highest level since 1993, median household income declined, and the number of people without health insurance soared.
Taken as a whole, the numbers present really one conclusion: this country is growing poorer with no immediate end in sight.
The numbers are especially bleak for women. children and minorities. According to the National Women’s Law Center there are now over 17 million women living in poverty, including more than 7.5 million in extreme poverty, with an income below half of the federal poverty line.
The poverty rate for Hispanics climbed to 26.6 percent and for blacks to 27.4 percent, again affecting children the most with 22 percent of our nation’s children living in poverty. Broken down by race that statistic becomes even more grim with 39 percent of black children and 35 percent of Hispanic children living in poverty.
For those families where women are heads of household 4 in 10 (40.7 percent) lived in poverty with more than half of the poor children living in female-headed families.
“Behind today’s grim statistics are real people who are finding it harder than ever to keep a roof over their heads, feed their families, get the health care they need and give their children a chance at a better life,” said Joan Entmacher, NWLC vice president for Family Economic Security.
The numbers are bad. Really, really bad and in a functioning political climate would be a cry for action. “The record numbers of women and families living in extreme poverty and without health insurance should send an urgent wake-up call to Congress to tackle the immediate deficit facing this nation — the lack of jobs — by acting swiftly on President Obama’s job creation proposals and passing a robust package that will put millions of American women and men back to work.”
So far, Congress hasn’t shown much interest, let alone compassionate outreach, to the ever-growing ranks of the poor. In fact, we’ve seen quite the opposite, and the numbers bear that out. With a quarter of this country living in poverty the Republican intentions to dismantle our social safety net have now gone from ridiculous to downright dangerous.
Photo from francofelini via flickr.