Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Census Bureau Findings Show Almost One in Four Children and 37 million Americans Remain Mired in Poverty

Despite Four Years of Economic Growth, there is No Progress in Reducing Poverty

WASHINGTON - August 30 - "For the fifth straight year, the Census Bureau's annual report card on how many Americans still live in poverty remains alarming," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "Even a year after Hurricane Katrina showed us the reality of poverty, the plight of poor people is unchanged. The fact that almost one in four of our children and 37 million people in the United States remain mired in poverty in an era of economic expansion cries out for serious attention from our political leaders. This should be an election issue."

In a bipartisan national poll of likely voters, 85 percent considered a candidate's position on reducing hunger and poverty to be an important factor in choosing the candidate they support for Congress. An overwhelming majority, 90 percent, said that they would support a candidate who is working to reduce hunger and poverty in our country.

Census Bureau Report findings for 2005 include:

* Poverty held statistically steady at 12.6 percent of the population (37 million people) breaking a four-year trend of annual increases.
* Children under 18 continue to have a higher poverty rate (22.8 percent or 12.9 million children, about the same as last year) than the general population.
* More than one-third (34.5 percent) of all people in poverty are children under 18.
* Elderly poverty increased slightly from last year, to 10.1 percent (3.6 million elderly).
* Single-female households increased, from 28.3 percent to 28.7 percent.
* Black, Hispanic, and Native American poverty remained more than twice that of Whites and Asians (although poverty among Asian households increased slightly).
* Black households are more than 3 times as likely (11.7 percent) to live below 50 percent of poverty than White, non-Hispanic households (3.5 percent); Hispanic households are over twice as likely (8.6 percent);
* Poverty by state is concentrated in the South, and relatively lighter in the Northeast and upper Midwest. 20 states have poverty rates at or above the national average, with the highest percentages in DC, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, New Mexico, and Texas.
* 37 states have low-income (below 125 percent of poverty) rates of 15 percent or more, with Mississippi having the greatest rate of 27.6 percent.


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