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September 13, 2012
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Stable poverty is not good enough says Community Action
Poverty rate unimproved and median household income declines
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – A stabilized poverty rate is not enough to improve the life for most Americans. That’s the message Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties wants people to know regarding the poverty figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 12, 2012. For 2011, the Bureau’s report indicates real median household income in the U.S. declined 1.5 percent versus 2010 and the poverty rate (15.0 percent) remained statistically unchanged. While the number of people in 2011 without health insurance decreased to 15.7 percent, down from 16.3 percent during 2010, that still means almost 16 people in every 100 are without healthcare. Responding to the report, Clarence Hightower, executive director of Community Action states, “Although the poverty rate is relatively unchanged and the total number of people receiving health coverage has increased slightly, it is not enough. Real household income continues to decline and there are still more than 46 million Americans living in poverty and nearly 49 million people without health insurance coverage.” The report also illustrates continuing disparities among people of color, including the fact that more than 1 in 4 Blacks and approximately 1 in 4 Hispanics (of any race) live below the poverty line. Meanwhile, fewer than 1 in 10 White (non-Hispanic) people live in poverty. “The racial disparities of income, education and place in the United States have already damaged our society and will only do more damage if we don’t change it. That’s why Community Action is sponsoring projects like Opportunity St. Paul, which engages low-income people in creating solutions, and Kitchen Table Conversations which brings critical racial equity questions to the forefront,” says Hightower. In Minnesota, the total poverty rate in 2011 dropped to 10.0 percent, down from 10.8 percent in 2010 and 11.1 percent in 2009. However, the state poverty rate still remains above the 9.9 percent rate from 2008 in the midst of the most recent recession. Minnesota’s 2011 median income is up again after having dropped in 2010, while the percentage of Minnesotans receiving health insurance coverage rose 0.5 percent in 2011. Still in 2011, there were approximately 487,000 residents of Minnesota without health insurance, the second highest total in the history of the state after 2010 (508,000 people). More detailed data concerning individual states and counties is expected to be released next week.
About Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties Community Action brings together community resources to reduce poverty and help people help themselves. Community Action provides services such as early childhood education, energy services, and financial independence training. The organization also advocates on its participants’ behalf for funding and services, and works to help shape public policy on poverty-related issues. As a nonpartisan, locally run, private nonprofit, Community Action is governed by a board composed of representatives from the low-income, government and business communities. Community Action has more than 300 employees and an annual budget of $20 million. It is part of a network of 1,100 Community Action agencies nationwide. For more information about Community Action, visit www.caprw.org. ###