Counterparties: Poor America
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Reuters has an interesting look at how we’re (not) responding. The economy is “grinding through a prolonged stretch of rising poverty and income inequality“, but America has decided that “the able-bodied poor don’t deserve much help”:
[There are] 12.2 million adults of working age, with no children at home, who were living below the poverty level in 2011. That’s up nearly double from two decades ago. And of those, 5.6 million received no assistance from any of the major five federal programs, a Reuters analysis of Current Population Survey data found. That’s the highest number since 1992, the first year for which comparable records are available.
There were 46 million Americans living below the official poverty line in 2011, up from 31 million in 2000; the number remains scary no matter which measure of poverty you use. And even as the rural population falls, the rural poverty rate has continued growing, as it has since the 1960s.
Today’s poor look like America: young people, for instance, are the “new face of a national homeless population”. And of course unemployment factors in: poverty rates skyrocket as the unemployed approach 27 weeks without a job. Congress, for its part, replaced extended Federal unemployment benefits this August “with drug testing, stricter work-search requirements, and leeway for states to run innovative training programs”. This, despite our increasingly troubling long-term-unemployment problem.
The Economist indicts Obama for not discussing poverty on the campaign trail, but adds that America’s poor are “beyond the aid of any single administration”. — Ryan McCarthy
On to today’s links: