People of color fare even worse. Nationally, morethan one out of three black children and one out of three Hispanic children arepoor;
here in Missouri, 44 percent of black children and 38 percent of Hispanicchildren are growing up in poverty.
Nationally, nearly half our children are childrenof color
and they are a growing part of our population. It compromises all ourfutures when children of color remain so disproportionately poor because growingup poor means a greater chance of worse health, more struggles in school, asmaller likelihood of completing high school or advancing to post-secondaryeducation and unacceptable social outcomes.
There is no mystery about why poverty is so pervasive. In 2008, the first full yearof the recession, the annual unemployment rate was only 5.8 percent.
Today,more than four years after the recession officially ended, unemployment stands at7.3 percent nationally and 7.2 percent in Missouri.
One out of seven workersnationally and one out of eight in Missouri are unemployed or underemployed—that includes those who can’t find enough hours of work and those who have givenup looking for work.
Over 4 million workers have been out of work for more thanhalf a year. This is a portrait of a nation and a state in deep distress.
Indeed, only the very richest among us are flourishing. They have been garnering moreand more of the nation’s income for decades, but now the pace has accelerateddramatically. This month, researchers from Berkeley and the Paris School of Economicsupdated their research showing that in 2012, the top 1 percent of U.S. earners collected19.3 percent of household income. The top 10 percent of earners collected more than half of all household income, their largest share since it was first tracked in 1917.In the lastthree years, the income of the top 1 percent grew by 31.4 percent while incomes for theother 99 percent grew only by 0.4 percent. In 2011, the Census data showed the firstannual increase in inequality since 1993, the earliest year such data have beencollected.
Between 1993 and 2012, inequality as measured by the Gini index rose by 5.2percent.
We pay a heavy price for our struggling economy. Because our economy isn’t working,millions of people are going hungry and risk homelessness. According to Department of Agriculture data released this month, nearly one in seven American households were foodinsecure at some point in 2012, meaning they lacked enough food for an active, healthylife for all household members. Here in Missouri over the past three years, one in six werefood insecure
. The Census data released September 19, 2013 shows that nationwide 43.1percent of renters pay more than 35 percent of their income in rent, the official definitionof families overburdened by rent costs.
Today, Missouri has even more overburdenedhouseholds in 2012—41.7 percent—than they had in the recession year of 2008 when 36.2percent paid too much for rental housing.
One bright spot is health insurance; the number of uninsured has been droppingdue to expansions of children’s health insurance programs and implementation of some provisions of the Affordable Care Act that particularly benefited youngadults.
Simple Policy Choices Can Help
Missouri’s Economy Isn’t Working for Everyone