Nearly half of Americans have fallen into poverty
It is no secret that people in Georgia and throughout the country continue to suffer from the seemingly-endless effects of the economic recession. However, recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau makes it clear that the scope of the problem is much wider than many previously believed, sending more and more members of the middle class into poverty.
The census data indicates that nearly 1 in 2 Americans have fallen into poverty or are now classified as low-income due to unemployment, low wages, insurmountable debt and high housing costs. At the same time, many state and local governments are running out of funding for social welfare programs, taking away the safety nets that so many American families rely on.
Currently, approximately 97 million Americans are designated low-income, which means that they earn between 100 and 199 percent of the federal poverty level. In addition, there are about 49 million people who fall below the poverty line. In sum, there are 146 million people in these two categories, making up about 48 percent of the U.S. population.
Sadly, children and the elderly are the age groups that are most likely to be poor or low-income. In terms of race and ethnicity, Hispanics are most likely to fall in those categories, followed by African-Americans, Asians, and non-Hispanic whites. States in the South and West have the highest share of low-income families.
In a survey of 29 major U.S. cities, mayors reported that about 30 percent of low-income residents who needed emergency food aid did not receive it due to lack of funding. Further, many state and local governments are contemplating cuts to welfare and food stamp programs in the face of massive budget deficits, making it likely that millions more will soon be joining the ranks of the poor in America.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income,” Hope Yen, Dec. 15, 2011