U.S. Poverty Numbers

This is the first post in a short series of posts on poverty and homelessness. I want to begin by sharing some numbers about poverty in the United States. These percentages for 2007 come from the United States Census Bureau (Poverty: 2007 Highlights at http://www.census.gov) and the Institute for Research on Poverty.

  • The official United States poverty rate in 2007 was 12.5%, or 37.3 million people. This number is up from 36.5 million in 2006.
  • The poverty rate for children under 18 years of age increased from 17.4% in 2006 to 18.0%, or 13.3 million, in 2007.
  • The poverty rate for adults 65 years and older was 9.7%.
  • In 2007, the poverty rate for families was 9.8%, comprising 7.6 million families.
  • Of all family groups, poverty is highest among those headed by single women.
  • 28.3% of all female-headed families (4.1 million families) were poor, compared to 4.9% of married-couple families (2.8 million families).

I cannot explain how poverty rates and percentages are calculated and determined but I am confident that the Census Bureau and IRP numbers are right-on. These numbers are staggering.

It is a national shame that in the richest and most advanced nation in the world that so many of our fellow citizens, neighbors, and family members must struggle on a daily basis to provide their families and children with adequate housing, food, healthcare, education, and childcare. Many of the poor find themselves in such a tragic situation that they have no recourse but to “live on the street.”

Lest anyone of us who have adequate income, housing, food, and the basic necessities of life turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to the poor, let us remember that we are only a catastrophic illness, a tragic accident, or a lay-off from work – which is an increasingly threatening prospect for many in today’s economic environment – away from a life of poverty, and even possibly, homelessness.

(I wrote this post for another blog in October.)

Explore posts in the same categories: Economics, Homelessness, Politics, Poverty

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