Thursday, May 19, 2011

Poverty is Being Poor

The number of American people living in poverty has soared to record-high levels. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 47 million Americans out of a population of about 310 million live in poverty in the Unites States. In January, figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau stated that one in five children in the United States live in poverty, with almost half of them living in extreme poverty.

Another report released found a job doesn’t always pay enough for families to be self-sufficient. Despite full-time employment, many still rely on food stamps, subsidized child care or other types of government assistance to make ends meet.

“Poverty persists because … we have a lot of lower-paying jobs,” said Philip E. Cole, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, which commissioned the analysis.

Of Ohio’s 10 largest occupations, only one pays enough for a family of three to pay for food, housing and other basic needs (that was nursing)

The two annual reports yesterday, “The State of Poverty in Ohio 2011: A Path to Recovery,” and “The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Ohio 2011.” note that 1.7 million Ohioans – 15.2 percent – live below the federal poverty level, the highest rate since the 1960s. A self-sufficiency analysis aims to provide a more-accurate read of what families must earn to meet their basic needs. It calculates costs for housing, food, child care, transportation and health care in each of Ohio’s 88 counties. It does not include “luxuries” such as cable television and fast food.

For instance, a family of three is considered to be living in poverty if it earns $18,500 a year or less. But to be self-sufficient in Franklin County, the same-size family – a parent, preschooler and school-age child – would need $46,978 a year. So while a single adult in Franklin County can survive earning $8.98 an hour, a single parent with an infant and preschooler must earn $25.70 an hour to meet basic needs. A two-parent household with an infant and preschooler would each need to make at least $14.37. In Ohio, 8.9 percent of people are jobless and even higher numbers want to work more but can only find part-time jobs. 85,483 Ohio families had to file for foreclosure last year alone.

“Wages have not gone up in Ohio, but costs have,” Diana M. Pearce, director of the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington said. “Even without a lost job or reduction in wages, many families are having a hard time.”

Yet, we also read the richest 1 percent of Americans have more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.That the 400 richest Americans have a bigger net worth than half of all Americans collectively.

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