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New Census Data Confirms Missouri’s Economy Isn’t Working for Everyone

New Census Data Confirms Missouri’s Economy Isn’t Working for Everyone

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Published by ProgressMissouri
Another Year of Short-sighted and Counterproductive Cuts Will Make It Worse
The economy isn’t working for many workers, around the nation or here at home in Missouri. Too many people are unemployed and have been for far too long. Too many people have fallen from the middle class into poverty, and some of those who were struggling to rise out of poverty have fallen even further behind. Data released this week by the Census Bureau shows us that poverty remains unacceptably high and that stunning numbers of people cannot afford to pay their rent or, according to the Agriculture Department’s latest report, feed their families.
Another Year of Short-sighted and Counterproductive Cuts Will Make It Worse
The economy isn’t working for many workers, around the nation or here at home in Missouri. Too many people are unemployed and have been for far too long. Too many people have fallen from the middle class into poverty, and some of those who were struggling to rise out of poverty have fallen even further behind. Data released this week by the Census Bureau shows us that poverty remains unacceptably high and that stunning numbers of people cannot afford to pay their rent or, according to the Agriculture Department’s latest report, feed their families.

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Published by: ProgressMissouri on Sep 29, 2013
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September 24, 2013
New Census DataConfirms Missouri’s EconomyIsn’t Working for Everyone
 Another Year of Short-sighted and Counterproductive CutsWill Make It Worse
 The economy isn’t working for many workers, around the nation or here at homein Missouri. Too many people are unemployed and have been for far too long. Toomany people have fallen from the middle class into poverty, and some of thosewho were struggling to rise out of poverty have fallen even further behind. Datareleased this week by the Census Bureau shows us that poverty remainsunacceptably high and that stunning numbers of people cannot afford to pay theirrent or, according to the Agriculture Department’s latest report, feed theirfamilies.We know what we should be doing to help rebuild the economy and restorepeople’s lives: provide unemployment benefits for those who can’t find jobs,continue tax credits to help working families make ends meet, maintain nutritionassistance to help buy food, rebuild our aging infrastructure to provide theframework for a strong economy and create jobs and invest in education from theearliest years to college to train the workers that a 21st century economy needs. These and other steps keep people out of poverty, strengthen our economy nowand help build a prosperous future. We also know how to afford these essentialinvestments: make sure everyone, including the wealthy and big corporations,pays their fair share. Unfortunately, rather than choosing to make theseinvestments, extremists in Congress wish to force another round of shortsightedand counterproductive cuts, harming people and threatening to stall the very slowand weak recovery.
For Millions, the Economy Is Worse Now Than In the First Year of the Recession
While the recession officially ended in June of 2009, the economy still is deeplytroubled. Poverty was higher in 2012 than it was in 2008, the first full year of therecession, according to data released on September 17 by the Census Bureau. In2008, 13.2 percent of the country was poor; in 2012, 15 percent or more than onein seven lived in poverty.
i
For a family of four, that means living on an incomeunder $23,492. Additional new data released September 19 by the Census Bureaushows that one in six people in Missouri are living in poverty—an increase from2008 when fewer than one in seven were poor. The share of households inMissouri with income under $35,000 has grown, while the share of householdsmaking $50,000 or more has fallen.
ii
 
 The number of those living in near-poverty also has grown; today more than one-third of the nation and more than one-third of Missouri live under twice thepoverty income level (below $36,568 for a three-person family).
iii
Poverty iscommon even for those who work; nationally, one-quarter of families headed bypart-time or part-year non-elderly workers are poor,
iv
and two-thirds of familiesheaded by part-time or part-year workers are near poor.
v
Poverty is most commonfor those with the least education; one out of three people with less educationthan a high school degree is poor, but only one out of seven with a high schooldegree and fewer than one out of five with a college degree. In Missouri, 29percent of people who have not finished high school are poor.
 
People of color fare even worse. Nationally, morethan one out of three black children and one out of three Hispanic children arepoor;
vi
here in Missouri, 44 percent of black children and 38 percent of Hispanicchildren are growing up in poverty.
vii
Nationally, nearly half our children are childrenof color
viii
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.
ix
 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.
x
Today,more than four years after the recession officially ended, unemployment stands at7.3 percent nationally and 7.2 percent in Missouri.
xi
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.
xii
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.
xiii
Between 1993 and 2012, inequality as measured by the Gini index rose by 5.2percent.
 
xiv
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
xv
. 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.
xvi
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.
xvii
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.
xviii
Simple Policy Choices Can Help
Missouri’s Economy Isn’t Working for Everyone
3

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