Congressional Action Can Prevent Worsening Poverty Situation

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Congressional Action Can Prevent Worsening Poverty Situation, Goodwill

A new study released by Indiana University finds that poverty is likely to get worse despite a recovering economy due to long periods of unemployment, continued impact on budget cuts to social programs and the quality of new jobs.

The authors credit the 2009 federal stimulus package for improving the employment situation, noting conditions would otherwise be much worse. However, the study also shows that although unemployment is falling, the data may be skewed as an increasing number of people give up their job search and are no longer counted in the unemployment rate.

The United States has faced a 27 percent increase in poverty between 2006 and 2010. In 2010, there were over 45 million people living in poverty, about 15 percent of the U.S. population. Furthermore, more than four million Americans report being unemployed for more than 12 months.

Many different subgroups have seen increases in poverty, especially Hispanics and African Americans. Poverty is greater among children than seniors, and greater among female-headed households. There has also been surprising growth in poverty among working-age adults, especially those between the ages of 18 and 34.

The report takes into account the official federal measure of poverty and a new supplemental measure (which accounts for geographical differences in the cost of living), when highlighting the 10 states with the highest poverty growth in percentage points: Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, California, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Minnesota/North Carolina/Wyoming (tied for 10th).

The study warns that if Congress does not protect benefits for the long-term unemployed, and continues to make cuts to social safety net programs while reducing state fiscal relief, the poverty situation will worsen. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office assumes the economy will not be at full employment until 2017, thus the next five years is already forecasted to be a period of continued economic hardship.

With agencies on the front-lines providing training and employment opportunities to the long-term unemployed and families in poverty, Goodwill looks forward to working with Congress and the Administration to help Americans during these hard times, specifically through reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Act, the Workforce Investment Act, and the Older Americans Act.

Story from, Goodwill Industries International Inc.
By, Laura Walling, Director of Advocacy and Legislative Affairs

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