And Now the Poverty Spreads
Bad news befall on the Obama administration on yet another grim week of what’s been a calamitous year for the American people. The high unemployment rate as well as other economic factors—many of them arguably stemming from unemployment itself— have engendered an unprecedented poverty rate. The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that as much as 2.6 million Americans slipped into poverty last year, thus adding up to a total of 46.2 million and making up 15.1% of the population.
The figure is the highest ever recorded since the Census Bureau began publishing the rate 52 years ago. Though the absolute number is as high as it has ever been; proportionally it’s as high as it was in 1993 at the beginning of the Clinton administration. With this, the United States is the OECD member with the 4th worse poverty rates. Furthermore, the median household income fell for a third straight year to a level not seen since 1996.
Moreover, the number of uninsured people went up by 900,000 making up 49.9 million. The high unemployment rate that has haunted the nation since the global financial crisis of 2009 can be feasibly put to blame for this; given that many people who have been without a job have lost protection provided by their former employers. Joblessness effects are rapidly spreading throughout America and it is— according to most economists— the main culprit of such rates; however it should also be kept in mind that the US is the developed country with the most income inequality, ranking worse than countries such as Iran, Nicaragua and Kenya.
To make things worse, a generational problem might just be arising with around 16.4 million children living under the poverty line in 2010, the highest number since 1962 which make 22% of the total children population.
The fretful figures come just some days after Obama laid out his $450 billion stimulus plan to get the economy back on track and though these fearsome numbers may give a sound of urgency for the plan, it may also inspirit president Obama’s political detractors.
We are still not close to see the last aftershock of the 2009 global financial crisis and the outlook doesn’t seem to incline positively, at least on the short run; and no solution can be easily foreseeable with a country that was hit so hard and remains so politically divided.