According to the Associated Press, information from economists and experts in academia from both liberal and conservative sides, are predicting that the poverty rate will go up from 15.1 percent in 2010 up to 15.7 percent. Some say it will not go up by that much but even if the rate only goes up by 0.1 percent, poverty would still be the highest it has ever been since 1965.
Poverty is increasing across the board, whether you look at underemployed people, people in the suburbs or even the poorest Americans. Many people are becoming discouraged in their job searches which puts them in a vulnerable position as unemployment starts to run out. Even in suburbs, poverty is increasing and some of those suburbs are in battlegrounds states like Colorado, Florida and Nevada.
2012 is an election year that has focused a lot on the middle class but the future is not looking good for the middle-class. Millions of middle class families may fall through the cracks as government aid programs such as unemployment insurance, Medicaid, welfare and food stamps bear the burden of a bad economy.
Peter Edelman, director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy, speaks about the recent recession but also points out that there are long term changes in the economy brought about by globalization, automation, outsourcing, immigration, and less unionization. In the long term, median household income has become lower and lower.
Since President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty started Medicaid, Medicare and other social welfare programs in 1964, poverty never fell below 11.1 percent.
”I’m reluctant to say that we’ve gone back to where we were in the 1960s. The programs we enacted make a big difference. The problem is that the tidal wave of low-wage jobs is dragging us down and the wage problem is not going to go away anytime soon,” Edelman said.
Even before the official report comes out, analysts are guessing that over 47 million people in the U.S. were living in poverty in 2011. That translate to 1 in 6 people living in poverty. The highest level of unemployment on record was 22.4 percent in 1959 before the war on poverty began.
Rates of unemployment are tied to the rates of poverty. There are indicators that many Americans are giving up on looking for work and just stopped their efforts.
According to Demographers:
- Poverty will remain above the pre-recession level of 12.5 percent for many more years. Several predicted that peak poverty levels
- 15 percent to 16 percent — will last at least until 2014, due to expiring unemployment benefits, a jobless rate persistently above 6 percent and weak wage growth.
- Suburban poverty, already at a record level of 11.8 percent, will increase again in 2011.
- Part-time or underemployed workers, who saw a record 15 percent poverty in 2010, will rise to a new high.
- Poverty among people 65 and older will remain at historically low levels, buoyed by Social Security cash payments.
- Child poverty will increase from its 22 percent level in 2010.
- Analysts also believe that the poorest poor, defined as those at 50 percent or less of the poverty level, will remain near its peak level of 6.7 percent.
According to the predictions, there is not much optimism about the future of the economy. It looks like the strongest point for either candidate who is hoping to win the Presidential election will have to be how they will solve the economic crisis.