Today is Poverty Day, and the U.S. Census Bureau has released new data that show 46.2 million people (15 percent) lived in poverty last year. Compared with 2010, the current poverty rate is not statistically different, but what is important to highlight is how social programs are working to help people survive in the face of poverty, especially during periods of high unemployment.
There is absolutely more to be done in order to reduce poverty. Without vital safety net programs like Social Security, unemployment insurance, SNAP (food stamps), and the Earned Income Tax Credit — programs that must be strengthened and expanded — millions of Americans would be struggling even harder to make ends meet.
Check out the infographic below from a Center for American Progress article by Melissa Boteach, manager of the Half in Ten campaign to cut poverty in half in ten years, on how government programs effectively keep people out of poverty:
In order to see a significant change moving forward, we must invest in these proven programs. But more importantly, we have to put people back to work in America. This is key not just in the short term, but for the future of our nation’s children. In 2011 more than one in four children (25.1 percent) under age 5 lived in poverty. It is also troubling that the rates for Black and Latino children were significantly higher, at 42.7 percent and 36 percent, respectively. With a growing and increasingly diverse population, this level of disparity is unacceptable.
As Americans, our immediate and long-term economic competitiveness is at stake. Today’s poverty data show us that it is time for government officials to prioritize decreasing poverty and increasing jobs, before the state of America’s middle- and low-income families becomes worse.