U.S. Government Understates Poverty

by Project Censored
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According to Richard Bavier, a former analyst for the federal Office of Management and Budget, already available data about employment rates, wages, and food stamp enrollment suggest that an additional 5.7 million people were officially poor in 2009. That would bring the total number of people with incomes below the federal poverty threshold to more than 45 million. The poverty rate, Bavier expects, will hit 15 percent — up from 13.2 percent in 2008, when the Great Recession first started to take its toll.

The Government’s way of measuring poverty may have worked many years ago but, now that the cost of housing, food, medical bills, insurance, etc., is more expensive than ever, the government needs to redo the poverty line. The current formula for setting the federal poverty line has been unchanged since 1963. While the formula may have been a good way to estimate the cost of living in the early 1960s, experts say food now represents one eighth of a typical household budget, with expenses such as housing and child care putting increasing pressure on struggling families. The current formula for setting the federal poverty line — unchanged since 1963 — takes the cost of food for an individual or family and multiplies the number by three, under the assumption that people spend one-third of their incomes putting meals on the table.

In addition, the official measure fails to account for regional differences in the cost of housing, it doesn’t include medical expenses or transportation, and at $22,000 for a family of four, the poverty line is considered by many to be simply too low.

The Government needs to recognize the importance of the situation and deal with the matter at hand. There are many states that are convinced that federal figures understate poverty. They need to accurately state these figures since they are becoming astronomical numbers, over fifteen percent of the population is considered poor which is over forty million people. Overall the government needs to do more than what they are currently doing to control poverty for the future and make a solid attempt to make things better and right.

Title: Collapse in Living Standards in America: More Poverty by Any Measure
Publication: Global Research, July 14, 2010
Author: Christine Vestal
Faculty Evaluator: Sheila Katz, and heather FlynnSonoma State University
Student Researcher: Sam Bergman and Danielle Frisk