“The U.S. poverty rate has surged over the past five months, with 7.8 million Americans falling into poverty, the latest indication of how deeply many are struggling after government aid dwindled,” the Washington Post reports. “The poverty rate jumped to 11.7 percent in November, up 2.4 percentage points since June, according to new data released Wednesday by researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame.”
“I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind.”
— HUD Secretary Ben Carson, quoted by the Washington Post.
Having just dodged the first major hurricane to hit Florida in more than a decade, Miami, it would appear, has something else to celebrate. Or not.
According to Bloomberg, Miami is now the most unequal city in the United States, having leapfrogged five ranks in just a year to reach the top. Yay! We have greater income disparity than anybody!
Bloomberg ordered large cities – those with populations of at least 250,000 – based on the Gini coefficient. The index measures the distribution of household income using 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The ratio ranges from zero, which reflects absolute equality, to one, complete inequality. Miami took the top spot in 2016 with a coefficient of .58, followed by Atlanta and New Orleans.
Of Americans think poor people are poor mostly because of a lack of opportunities, while only 30% said it’s mostly because of their individual failings, new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. “While Democrats and independents in the new survey were more likely to think the rich, poor and unemployed got where they are mostly due to outside circumstances, Republicans in the poll largely said the opposite. They tended to think the poor are poor because of individual failings, rather than lack of opportunities (48% to 23%), and that they have a poor work ethic rather than good jobs being unavailable to them (49% to 21%).”
Despite the stereotypes — and the reality behind them that blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately poor — the largest group of poor people in America are white people.
As Americans, we need to beat back this notion that when somebody’s poor, somehow they are lazy.
— Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), quoted by the Columbus Dispatch, urging state lawmakers to extend tax-funded health coverage to tens of thousands poor, uninsured Ohioans.
The American poverty rate is even higher than we knew, according to a new method used by the U.S. Census Bureau. The more realistic calculation puts about 16 percent of Americans at or below poverty level, compared with 15.2 percent under the standard model.
Acting on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, the Census Bureau designed the new measure to capture the impact of many forms of non-cash public assistance, such as food stamps, housing subsidies and energy assistance…The alternative calculation also takes into account geographic differences in prices.
Not all groups are affected equally. Those with fewest means to improve their incomes are in the most trouble. I’m talking about your grandparents or parents.
The new measure had a major impact on poverty rates among the elderly, in part because they have large medical expenses. While Social Security keeps many of them just over the poverty line, health care costs can easily pull them under, Short said. Some 15.9% of senior citizens are considered poor, up from 9% under the official rate.
Things would be even worse without the assistance.
Six temporary safety net programs that originated in the 2009 stimulus act helped keep 7 million people out of poverty, said Arloc Sherman, a senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, citing the new Census report. These include three new or expanded tax credits, two enhancements of unemployment insurance, and expanded food stamp benefits.
These programs are all facing cuts in the ginned up deficit crisis.