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Poverty Data: No Significant Difference! -- Well, Not Statistically

Sep 19, 2013 | By Sr. Marge Clark

There is no statistically significant difference in the Census Bureau Poverty Data, comparing 2012 to 2011. However, looking within the statistics, pictures of people begin to emerge.

300,000 more of our elderly community members are living in poverty than they were just one year ago!  Over 3.4 million elderly rely on SNAP (food Stamps), which some members of Congress want to cut, drastically. This would remove millions of people from receiving SNAP. Millions of seniors also rely on “Meals on Wheels” for their only hot meals. Due to sequestration, these meals are being lost or frequency reduced for hundreds of thousands. How many of these would be in the 300,000 who have moved into poverty in 2012? These same 300,000 elderly are facing proposed cuts to Social Security, by application of a new formula for payments (Chained-CPI), and are at risk of higher prescription out-of-pocket costs if the ACA loses funding.

The overall poverty rate for children (under age 18) is higher than for the general population (21.3 percent, 15.4 million) and did not change, statistically. A look at subgroups within this data shows alarming numbers of children growing up in poverty.  47.2 percent of children in a female household were in poverty. This doubling of children in poverty relates directly to the ratio of women’s salaries to those of their male counterparts at 77%. It is even more severe for the youngest of children.  56 percent of children under the age of six is being raised in a family lacking finances to provide sufficient resources for strong growth and development .

Attention is often given to female-headed households. However, these data reveal an increasing number of male heads of household fell below the poverty level in 2012 (16.1% to 16.4%). This is likely an effect of the “jobless recession” taking a toll on those at the low end of the income scale. Women benefitted a bit more than men in the recovery of jobs.

Other “non-significant” changes include the downward trajectories of income for people living in the South, and those living outside metropolitan areas.  Other research has commented on the shift of poverty clusters from urban areas to suburban, where there is less access to services.

A tragic reality is that 6.6 percent of the people i