A Rise in Poverty

, Irene Warren, Leave a comment

The number of American families living in poverty in the United States “increased 1.3 percent between 2006 and 2007,” according to the latest data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. And, in terms of those who lacked healthcare coverage, the report showed an increase in the number of people who were without healthcare coverage in 2007.

Data collected, using the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) Survey, in 2008 showed that “the nation’s official poverty rate in 2007 was 12.5 percent,” as the U.S. Census Bureau reported. Also, the report revealed that in 2007, the nation’s poverty rate was not significantly different from that of 2006. In all, the data collected showed that “there were 37.3 million people in poverty in 2007, up from 36.5 million in 2006, and the number of people without health insurance coverage declined from 47 million (15.8 percent) in 2006 to 45.7 million (15.3 percent) in 2007,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau report.

Experts who held a press conference at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for Public Policy Research, August 25, 2008, speculated that “the U.S. Census Bureau is likely to report an increase in the 2007 poverty rate, because this number will represent an average of the 2007 calendar year figures, and will not include data for the first six months of 2008.” To some degree, their assumption holds some truth since the report released by the U.S. Census Bureau largely contained statistical data from 2007. This might be partially due to the U.S. Bureau not being able to collect all data from 2008 as annual incomes are not reported until the end of the year, one panel member pointed out.

In a more detailed analysis of income and earnings as it relates to the 2007 national poverty rate, the U.S. Census Bureau reported, “Real median income for black and non-Hispanic white households rose between 2006 and 2007, and showed that real median household income remained statistically unchanged for Asians and Hispanics:” black households having the lowest median income of $33,916, Asian households having the highest median income of $66,103, and Hispanic’s at $38,679. Overall, the data collected showed that for Hispanics, 21.5 percent lived in poverty in 2007, up from 20.6 percent in 2006, non-Hispanic whites were at 8.2 percent, and blacks at 24.5 percent blacks, while only 10.2 percent of Asians lived at the poverty level in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau report.

In terms of gender, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that “In 2007, the ratio of earnings of women who worked full time year-round was 78 percent of that for corresponding men. The real median earnings of men who worked full time, year-round climbed between 2006 and 2007, from $43,460 to $45,113.”

For women, the report showed a corresponding increase of $33,437 to $35,102. Also, the U.S. Census Bureau noted that increases in earnings for both men and women showed an annual decline over a three-year time frame.

Respectively, the data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that “married-couple families had a poverty rate of 4.9 percent (2.8 million), compared with 28.3 percent (4.1 million) for female-householder, no-husband-present families and 13.6 percent (696,000) for those with a male householder and no wife present.” Age-wise, the report revealed that “the number of people in poverty increased for seniors 65 and older—from 3.4 million in 2006 to 3.6 million in 2007. For children younger than 18, the number in poverty climbed as well, from 12.8 million in 2006 to 13.3 million in 2007. For those 18 to 64, however, the number in poverty remained statistically unchanged, at 20.4 million in 2007,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Thus, Consultant Richard Bavier, AEI economist Desmond Lachman, and Urban Institute poverty expert Linda Giannarelli, who spoke at AEI, argued that “for all of 2007, employment grew by an average of 95,000 jobs per month.” However, they claimed that “the ongoing housing market downturn and the credit difficulties in financial markets impaired income growth from the third quarter of 2007 onward.” Also, they explained that employment growth slowed distinctly in the fourth quarter of 2007, which makes for a logical argument as to why the U.S. economy’s poverty rates increased in 2007.

Concluding, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that “For each of the 50 states, women had lower median earnings than men in the 2007 ACS. The District of Columbia had the highest ratio of women’s-to-men’s earnings (93.4 percent). In fact, there was no statistically significant difference between women’s and men’s median earnings in Washington, D.C.”

Irene Warren is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run jointly by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.