Category Archives: Poverty

Some Facts About Child Poverty

Among the richest nations of the world, the United States has one of the worst child poverty rates. A 2014 UNICEF report ranks us 36th among the 41 countries studied. Some reports say as many as 44% of our nations children currently live in low-income or poverty situations.

Poverty in this context refers to living at or below the Federal Poverty Threshold (FPT), or $23,850 for a family of four. Low Income is defined as at or below 200% FPT — research has consistently shown that families in the US need about twice the FPT to meet their most basic needs. This Low-Income threshold is currently estimated at $47,700 for a family of four. See this link for more details.

To make the numbers a little less abstract, consider the following. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. At that rate, a person working a full-time (forty hour per week) job will make $15,080. A two-parent household, if both parents work full-time at the federal minimum wage, will bring in $30,160.

In fact, at the current federal minimum wage a family of four would need to work approximately 136.5 hours per week, or 3.16 full-time jobs, just to reach the low-income threshold. And that doesn’t take into account the cost of child-care while Mom and Dad are working all those hours.

 

For Additional Reading:

Living in Poverty

There’s a lot written about poverty and the people who live in it — nearly all of it written by those on the outside looking in. That’s why I found it refreshing to come across a post from a couple years ago, written from the perspective of someone actually living through it. It is an honest, thoughtful, heart-breakingly forthright meditation on being poor in modern-day America.

“Rest is a luxury for the rich,” author Linda Tirado tells us. “You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever. We know that the very act of being poor guarantees that we will never not be poor. It doesn’t give us much reason to improve ourselves.” Later on she says “It’s best not to hope.” Hope too is a luxury for the rich.

Poverty is bleak and cuts off your long-term brain. It’s why you see people with four different babydaddies instead of one. You grab a bit of connection wherever you can to survive. You have no idea how strong the pull to feel worthwhile is. It’s more basic than food. You go to these people who make you feel lovely for an hour that one time, and that’s all you get. You’re probably not compatible with them for anything long-term, but right this minute they can make you feel powerful and valuable. It does not matter what will happen in a month. Whatever happens in a month is probably going to be just about as indifferent as whatever happened today or last week. None of it matters. We don’t plan long-term because if we do we’ll just get our hearts broken. It’s best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.

“Nobody likes poor people procreating,” she says, “but they judge abortion even harder.” It’s a perfect summation of the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” attitude we so often take with the poor.

The article does contain a few profanities, but it’s definitely worth a read. Check it out at the link: Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense