While the poverty rate is down to 12.7 percent at the end of 2016 (this is a decrease from 15.1% in 2010) there are still over 40 million Americans that fall into this category. That is tens of millions of people that live under the federal government established poverty levels. This includes millions of senior citizens, children, and vulnerable individuals as well.
According to the United States Census Bureau, this is the trend in poverty rates over the last several years. As you can see, it has mostly been a downward trend, which is encouraging since the job market has been at record strength for the last couple of years.
- 2010 – 15.1%
- 2011 – 15%
- 2012 – 15%
- 2013 – 14.5%
- 2014 – 14.8%
- 2015 – 13.5%
- 2016 – 12.7%
So all of this is good news. While a poverty rate of over 12 % is still way too high, the fact it is very hard to drive that number much lower. There are just some people who lack the proper budgeting skills, lack motivation to work and/or get an education or skills, and that take advantage of the system by living off of government assistance.
There are countless other reasons for long term poverty as well, including medical emergencies, death or divorce of a spouse, substance abuse issues, sick children, and many more. But the fact is poverty will never go away. So 40.6 million is still too many, and hopefully we as a society can drive it down to a much lower number.
There are some other concerning figures in this latest Census Report data. One of them has to do with health insurance rates. There are still 8.8% of the American population that lacks medical insurance. This does not include dental insurance. So being uninsured can increase risk of falling into poverty, as one unexpected major illness or medical bill can cause a hardship.
In addition, the total household income for those 40.6 million Americans living in poverty is increasing much slower than the general population. The bottom 20% of Americans only had their income increase by 2.6% in 2016., and this figure includes the cash from government assistance programs. That is compared to a national average of 3.2% and higher income households over 5%.
This goes to our point that many people living in poverty more than likely lack the education/skills needed for today’s high tech leaning economy. What is very concerning here as well that if a low income families is income at a very slow rate, then it will be very challenging for them to exit the poverty levels.
Possible high levels solutions to drive down poverty levels
The bottom line is the economy continued to make progress in 2016 in increasing income levels, driving down poverty numbers, and much more. But the fact is much more needs to be done. People need to take personal accountability on their life’s, but we also think the government can help more by investing in things such as job training. Other ideas we support include internships, increased educational assistance, and other investments in ensuring the population can grow and develop. It is the same concept as a company trying to invest a little money in its employees to help them grow and develop. We would like to see more government programs doing that as well!
Those are just a couple ideas we have. But poverty is still high, and while progress has been made from 2010 to 2016, much more can (and should be done).