News Release

Study: 16 Million Americans in Dire Poverty


McClatchy Newspapers published an analysis on poverty today. It reports: “The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation’s ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ continues to widen.

“A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty. A family of four with two children and an annual income of less than $9,903 — half the federal poverty line — was considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made less than $5,080 a year.”

Sherman is a senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and is quoted in the McClatchy article. He said today: “Poverty has been rising for the last several years and this is really the first time that has happened during an economic recovery period. It’s part of a pattern reflecting that gains of economic growth are not trickling down. Unfortunately, that pattern seems to be holding at the very bottom. The deepest forms of poverty seem to be getting worse. There’s an increase in Americans below half the poverty line. Single mothers who moved into the work force in droves in the late 1990s now sometimes lose their jobs — but now they are not finding the safety net that was there before.”
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Director of the poverty, education and social justice program at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Jones-DeWeever said today: “This is part of a long-term trend. Just because welfare rolls are down it doesn’t mean that people are better off. … People have gotten low-wage, dead-end jobs that don’t offer them a way out of poverty, don’t offer them health care and keep them in a state of extreme insecurity. Bush promised to address this in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but has never followed up on that promise. We need a substantial effort to deal with the problem of poverty and its deeper causes.”

Jones-DeWeever has written numerous reports on poverty including “Resilient and Reaching for More: Challenges and Benefits of Higher Education for Welfare Participants and Their Children” and “The Women of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: Multiple Disadvantages and Key Assets for Recovery.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167