New Census Data Demand Action on Inequality and Poverty

(COMMON DREAMS) Melissa Boteach — The U.S. Census Bureau released data this week showing little to no improvement in poverty and family incomes in 2014, despite a falling unemployment rate.

This frustrating state of affairs is directly related to high levels of inequality andstagnant wages, which have kept poverty rates much higher than they should be given that we’ve had more than five straight years of economic growth. The problem is that despite workers’ increased productivity and higher levels of education, the economic gains have concentrated at the top of the income ladder, leaving workers with flat or declining wages and chronic economic insecurity.

It’s clear that we need more aggressive action on inequality and poverty. But, at the same time, the Census data also confirm the dramatic role that our social insurance and assistance programs play in protecting families from hardship and boosting economic security for low- and middle-income families.

For example, the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account a more comprehensive set of family resources and expenses, shows that last year Social Security lifted 25.9 million people out of poverty and the Earned Income and Child Tax credits kept 9.8 million people out of poverty. Similarly, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and affordable housing protected 4.7 million and 2.5 million people, respectively. Moreover, recent research shows that without our nation’s social safety net, the poverty rate would be nearly twice as high—with nearly 30 percent of Americans living in poverty!

Source: New Census Data Demand Action on Inequality and Poverty | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community