RESULTS Responds to Census Bureau's New Poverty Data
September 12, 2012 — Today, the U.S. Census bureau released its 2011 poverty and income data. 46.2 million Americans — 15 percent — lived in poverty last year ($23,021 or less for a family of four in 2011), not statistically different from 2010. RESULTS calls on Congress and President Obama to make ending poverty a top priority and protect critical programs that help millions of low-income Americans struggling to make ends meet.
“The new Census data reinforces what we’ve known already — that too many of our fellow Americans are struggling today, and that anti-poverty of programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) work,” said Meredith Dodson, director of RESULTS U.S. poverty campaigns. The Census Bureau estimates that EITC lifted 5.7 million Americans out of poverty last year and SNAP lifted 3.9 million above the poverty line. “We need to protect critical services for our most vulnerable, and we strongly urge Congress to reject proposed Draconian cuts to key safety net programs.”
Some of the other key findings in today’s Census data release:
- 25.1 percent — more than one in four — children under age 5 lived in poverty, but the rates for black and Latino children were significantly higher, at 42.7 percent and 36 percent, respectively.
- Poverty varied dramatically by state, from an estimate of over 22 percent in New Mexico to less than eight percent in New Hampshire.
- Income inequality grew as those in the top five percent saw their income grow in 2011 while income for those at the 10th percentile declined 1.9 percent between 2010 and 2011.
- The number of uninsured Americans dropped by 1.3 million to 16.4 percent, including 9.4 percent of all children. The drop in the uninsured rate is, in part, the result of the Affordable Care Act’s provision that allows young adults (up to the age of 26) to receive health coverage through their parents’ insurance and the continued increase in Medicaid and Medicare enrollment.
“Poverty is still a real problem in America, and we need political will to make ending poverty a reality,” said Dodson. “We are deeply concerned about proposed cuts to tax credits and nutrition assistance for low-income working families. The Census data gives us further evidence that EITC and SNAP are making a big difference for millions of families, yet these very programs are on the chopping block right now. There are key improvements to the EITC and Child Tax Credit that are set to expire in December, meaning millions of children and their families could fall into poverty, making the situation worse.” Dodson pointed to the report from Citizens for Tax Justice for state-by-state data on how many families could be impacted.
Hundreds of RESULTS volunteers in chapters across the country have worked tirelessly to support a balanced approach to deficit reduction and a tax code that helps break the cycle of poverty rather than widening the gap between the have’s and have-not’s, meeting directly with policymakers and organizing in their local communities. “This poverty data reminds us that choices in Washington have consequences for families all over the country,” Dodson added. “It is disgraceful to raise taxes on firefighters, teachers, police officers, child care workers, and military families — families who benefit from the EITC and CTC —while showering more tax cuts on millionaires and billionaires who don’t need them. We urge Congress to protect working families by making the expiring EITC and CTC provisions permanent, and reject any budget packages that cut anti-poverty services.”
RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund (REF) are sister organizations that, together, are a leading force in ending poverty in the United States and around the world. We create long-term solutions to poverty by supporting programs that address its root causes — lack of access to medical care, education, or opportunity to move up the economic ladder. We empower ordinary people to become extraordinary voices for the end of poverty in their communities, the media, and the halls of government.