Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009

  • Poverty rise stirs debate over aid programs, By Corey Dade, September 16, 2010, National Public Radio: “The recession drove the number of poor Americans in 2009 to its highest total in half a century, yet several measures indicate the impact could well have been worse. While the Census Bureau’s report Thursday on the economic conditions of U.S. households found that 3.8 million more people lived in poverty last year than in 2008, the agency and advocates for the poor say millions of others were sustained with the help of government programs. Advocates cite federal stimulus initiatives aimed at low-income earners and the extension of unemployment benefits, which alone are credited with helping keep 3.3 million people out of poverty…”
  • Poverty rate hits 15-year high, U.S. figures show, By Alfred Lubrano, September 17, 2010, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Driven by the relentless recession, the U.S. poverty rate soared to 14.3 percent in 2009, its highest level in 15 years, new government figures show. The rate was up from 13.2 percent in 2008, according to a report the Census Bureau released Thursday. Locally the picture was less dire, with poverty rising slightly to 11.1 percent in Pennsylvania and to 9.3 percent in New Jersey…”
  • ‘The new poor’: Poverty reaches historic levels, By Tony Pugh, September 16, 2010, Miami Herald: “The withering recession pushed the number of Americans who are living in poverty to a 51-year high in 2009 and left a record 50.7 million people without health insurance, the Census Bureau said Thursday. The 43.6 million Americans who were poor last year — up from 39.8 million the year before — were the most since poverty estimates were first published in 1959. The national poverty rate of 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008, was the highest since 1994. The bureau also found that median income — the amount at which half of U.S. households earn more or less — had fallen 4.2 percent by 2009 since the recession began in 2007…”
  • 1 in 7 in U.S. lives below poverty line, By Don Lee and Alana Semuels, September 17, 2010, Los Angeles Times: “The recession and longer-term economic troubles have pushed the nation’s poverty rate to levels not seen in more than a decade, wiping out gains in the long-running War on Poverty and adding more financial strain to the lives of millions of Americans. New Census Bureau data, released Thursday, also showed that the face of the poor has changed. Those falling below the poverty line today are more likely to be full-time workers who cannot earn enough to meet their needs or middle-class workers driven into the ranks of the poor by lost jobs or shrinking incomes. The higher poverty level – 14.3%, or an increase of nearly 4 million people last year – means higher costs for government programs such as food stamps and unemployment compensation and potentially heavier tax burdens for the country as a whole…”
  • The new poor and the almost-poor: Will poverty rate climb more?, By Patrik Jonsson, September 16, 2010, Christian Science Monitor: “Call them the newly poor. They are the 4.8 million people in America who last year joined the ranks of people living in poverty – defined as having less than $22,000 in annual income for a family of four. They are people, probably, much like Reginald O’Neal and his family. Mr. O’Neal and several family members were at the Dekalb County welfare department here on Thursday, trying to get help to turn the electricity back on at their house. ‘If you were to see our house, you’d think we were middle class,’ says the 20-something Atlantan. ‘But that would be missing the point: Lately, we’re poor…'”
  • US adds 3.8 million more to ranks of the poor as poverty rate jumps, By Ron Scherer, September 16, 2010, Christian Science Monitor: “The deepest recession in modern times has sharply increased the ranks of the poor during the past year, with 1 in 7 people in America officially counted as living in poverty. The news from a US Census Bureau report released Thursday underscores how deeply the Great Recession has affected the nation’s standard of living. The key findings of report, which compared income, poverty rate, and health-care insurance coverage in 2009 with 2008 numbers, include the following…”
  • Despite recession, seniors see income gains, By Dennis Cauchon and Richard Wolf, September 17, 2010, USA Today: “Senior citizens are enjoying some of the biggest income gains in decades at a time when every other age group is losing ground in the recession, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. The 31 million households headed by people 65 and older saw their median income rise by a healthy 5.8% in 2009 after inflation and 7.1% since the recession began in December 2007. Every other age group has suffered income losses of at least 4% during the recession, the data show…”
  • Not quite poor, but struggling: Do seniors need their own poverty index?, By Matt O’Brien, September 16, 2010, Contra Costa Times: “The proportion of America’s seniors living in poverty dropped last year to just under 9 percent, a hopeful statistic in an otherwise dismal report on poverty released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Local senior advocates, however, say the numbers mask some of the financial struggles older residents face living in the Bay Area, where the cost of living is high…”
  • Poverty rise reflects toll of recession, By Bill Bush and Rita Price, September 17, 2010, Columbus Dispatch: “They didn’t earn much, but for most of their marriage, the Bowens had enough. ‘We could afford to go out and eat once in a while, do the stuff that families do,’ Carolyn Bowen said. ‘Now, we can’t even go for ice cream.’ The math no longer works: Ron Bowen lost a job that paid $20 an hour and, after eight months of unemployment, finally found another – cleaning offices for $9.50 an hour. The Bowens and their children have joined 43.6million other Americans – about one in seven – who live in an uncertain place where groceries are bought with government-issued benefit cards and bills might not be paid. A U.S. Census Bureau report released yesterday put the nation’s official poverty rate at 14.3 percent last year, up from 13.2 percent in 2008. It hasn’t been higher since 1994, but is still 8.1 percentage points lower than in 1959, the first year for which estimates are available…”
  • A descent into poverty for millions, By Warren Wolfe and Jeremy Olson, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “Ramsey County human services planner Jim Anderson didn’t need Thursday’s census report to know that poverty has climbed sharply since the economy collapsed in 2008. Last month he turned away 59 adults with 126 children seeking emergency shelter for families. In a report that confirmed what experts like Anderson have sensed, the U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday that the nation’s poverty rate shot to 14.3 percent last year, the highest in 16 years, and that one in five American children were living below the poverty line. Household incomes also stagnated, and the number of people without health insurance reached an all-time high of 51 million. The report suggested that in Minnesota, too, poverty is on the rise…”
  • Poverty in Hawaii highest since ’97, By Mary Vorsino, September 17, 2010, Honolulu Star-Advertiser: “Thousands more Hawaii residents fell into poverty last year, driving up the rate here to its highest level since 1997, Census Bureau figures released yesterday show. The poverty rate in Hawaii rose to 12.5 percent in 2009 — with more than 156,000 people living below the poverty line — the third consecutive year the state saw growing numbers of impoverished people. In 2007, 7.5 percent of the state’s population was below the poverty line. In 2008, the number rose to 9.9 percent — or 125,000 people…”
  • Michigan’s poverty rate hits 14%, highest level in 16 years, By Mike Wilkinson and Catherine Jun, September 17, 2010, Detroit News: “Michigan’s poverty rate last year reached a 16-year high as the full effects of the recession continued to sweep across the country, according to a report issued Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The state’s poverty rate in 2009 rose to 14 percent, up from 13 percent in 2008. That’s 1.4 million people in poverty. In 2000, the rate was 9.9 percent. Data further showed the Midwest — plagued by job losses in manufacturing — was hit the hardest in median income, falling to its lowest point since 1994. But the region didn’t suffer alone. Nationally, the number of poor climbed to the highest level since the 1960s, leaving one in seven Americans in poverty, the report said…”
  • Poverty at a 51-year high in the U.S., By Renée C. Lee, September 17, 2010, Houston Chronicle: “More than 43 million Americans lived in poverty last year, the largest number in 51 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The figure pushes the national poverty rate to 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008, statistics released Thursday show. In Texas, there were about 4.3 million people living in poverty in 2009, increasing the state’s poverty rate to 17.3 percent, up from 15.9 percent the prior year. County numbers won’t be available until later this month, but local social service agencies say they expect them to reflect what’s happening at the national and state level…”
  • Texas seeks answers to rising poverty rate, By Robert T. Garrett and Kim Horner, September 17, 2010, Dallas Morning News: “The government announced Thursday that nearly 4.3 million Texans lived in poverty last year, a whopping 11 percent increase. Larry James and Jill Cumnock absorbed the news many months ago. They run charities that feed and tend a swelling group of poor North Texans, and they say demand has gone up by at least 25 percent, and in some cases has doubled, since the economy took a dive in 2008. ‘The need is going up, that’s for sure,’ said James, president and chief executive of Central Dallas Ministries. He said his nonprofit is on track to feed, house and assist as many as 48,000 people this year – up from 43,000 last year and 34,000 two years ago…”
  • One-time working men now the ‘fresh face of poverty’, By Rick Montgomery, September 16, 2010, Kansas City Star: “The nation’s poverty rate rose sharply last year and the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 10 percent, according to new government figures. Just further evidence, in cold numbers, of how the second year of the Great Recession sent working men such as Matt Stephens spiraling. He and hundreds of others lined up this week for free lunches at the Wilhelmina Gill Multi-Service Center in Kansas City, Kan. Stephens, 45, spent a year in college after high school, then attended trade school, drove a truck for pay and also worked in his family’s insulation business…”

Race and School Suspensions

Racial disparity in school suspensions, By Sam Dillon, September 13, 2010, New York Times: “In many of the nation’s middle schools, black boys were nearly three times as likely to be suspended as white boys, according to a new study, which also found that black girls were suspended at four times the rate of white girls. School authorities also suspended Hispanic and American Indian middle school students at higher rates than white students, though not at such disproportionate rates as for black children, the study found. Asian students were less likely to be suspended than whites. The study analyzed four decades of federal Department of Education data on suspensions, with a special focus on figures from 2002 and 2006, that were drawn from 9,220 of the nation’s 16,000 public middle schools…”

Effects of Mothers’ Health and Education on Children

  • Protecting the pregnant mind, By Harvey Black, September 13, 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “At least one in 13 pregnant women suffers from mental health problems, and that rate jumps to one in three if women have a history of mental health issues, according to a University of Wisconsin-Madison study that researchers say is the first to systematically examine the issue on a national scale. ‘Poor mental health during pregnancy can lead to problems during pregnancy and beyond, like having low birth weight babies or postpartum depression. So we want to try and prevent women from developing mental health problems during pregnancy,’ said Whitney Witt, lead author of the study and assistant professor of population health sciences at UW-Madison. The study was published online in the July issue of the Archives of Women’s Mental Health. The research is important because the treatment window for many women can be small, says Myrna Weissman, professor of epidemiology and psychiatry at Columbia University…”
  • A mother’s education has a huge effect on a child’s health, By David Brown, September 16, 2010, Washington Post: “It turns out that pencils and books for mothers may be as important as vaccines and drugs for babies in reducing child mortality in the developing world. That’s because a mother’s education level has a huge, if indirect, effect on the health of her children. That relationship, observed in many small studies in rich countries, turns out to be true everywhere on the globe, according to a new study. Half the reduction in child mortality over the past 40 years can be attributed to the better education of women, according to the analysis published in the journal Lancet. For every one-year increase in the average education of reproductive-age women, a country experienced a 9.5 percent decrease in the child deaths…”