Issue of the Month: Poverty in America
As Americans, we can look back over the past 50 years and say we’ve accomplished quite a bit to make this country a better place to call home (Passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Space Exploration, Emergence of the World Wide Web…Just to name a few!) We have always been committed to ingenuity, progress and improvement. I would argue it is part of our DNA and defines us as a nation.
So I must admit, I was taken back last month when I read an article in the New York Times by Peter Edelman titled “Poverty in America: Why Can’t We End It.” I can’t say I agree with all the content and opinions in the article, but the numbers don’t lie- poverty levels are at an all-time high that we have not seen in about half a century.
In 2010, the poverty rate was 15.1% and a recent survey of economists taken by the Associated Press estimated the current poverty rate to be 15.7%. This would make the poverty rate the highest it has been since the war on poverty in 1965! The poverty rate for Blacks and Hispanics in the U.S. on average is more than double that of non-Hispanic whites and Asians. A main contributor to the high poverty rate is the increase in the unemployment rate to 8.3% in July 2012. The Average UER during 1948-2012 was only 5.8%, so we can see the impact of this large increase.
Now, more than ever, millions of Americans need our help. But what can we do? How do we make a difference? Well this is where I 100% agree with Mr. Edelman, we need to take action and support initiatives that will help those in poverty find jobs that pay decent wages. If you’re committed to being part of this change, United Way is here to help! To learn more about how you can make a difference, please visit www.uwmc.local:8888/mission/income. From education services, to job training and placement, United Way continues to support programs focused on providing people the opportunity to become financially stable. We invite you to be part of the change and the solution!
Post submitted on behalf of Ryan Vilnius, YLS Issue Awareness Committee member.
Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon
1) Thresholds have been counted the same way since the 1960’s but they are updated for inflation on an annual basis.