Columbia Daily Tribune Series on Poverty

Left Behind, series homepage, Columbia Daily Tribune: “Poverty does not just affect the poor.  The Left Behind series looks at different aspects of poverty – mobility, crime, education, health care, housing, employment and transportation – and how each affects not only the poor, but the taxpayers of Boone County.  Tribune reporters spent weeks poring over data and talking to Boone County residents about how poverty affects us all…”

Suburban Poverty

Rising suburban poverty is a bipartisan problem, By Tanvi Misra, November 8, 2016, Citylab: “Donald Trump’s presidential campaign famously made much ado about ‘inner cities’—those hellish parts of U.S. metros where ‘the blacks’ live. As my colleague Brentin Mock recently pointed out, the phrase is decades-old innuendo for black crime. Outdated as it may be, there is a nugget of truth that can be extracted from it: Too many cities do have pockets of concentrated poverty—and Democrats as well as Republicans need to take responsibility for that. But the same is increasingly true of American suburbs.  A new analysis by Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, finds that poverty affects every single Congressional district in the U.S.—and suburban ones are not exceptions, but particular concerns…”

Poverty in the United States

Millions in U.S. climb out of poverty, at long last, By Patricia Cohen, September 25, 2016, New York Times: “Not that long ago, Alex Caicedo was stuck working a series of odd jobs and watching his 1984 Chevy Nova cough its last breaths. He could make $21 an hour at the Johnny Rockets food stand at FedEx Field when the Washington Redskins were playing, but the work was spotty.  Today, Mr. Caicedo is an assistant manager at a pizzeria in Gaithersburg, Md., with an annual salary of $40,000 and health benefits. And he is getting ready to move his wife and children out of his mother-in-law’s house and into their own place. Doubling up has been a lifesaver, Mr. Caicedo said, ‘but nobody just wants to move in with their in-laws.’  The Caicedos are among the 3.5 million Americans who were able to raise their chins above the poverty line last year, according to census data released this month. More than seven years after the recession ended, employers are finally being compelled to reach deeper into the pools of untapped labor, creating more jobs, especially among retailers, restaurants and hotels, and paying higher wages to attract workers and meet new minimum wage requirements…”

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015

  • Median incomes are up and poverty rate is down, surprisingly strong census figures show, By Don Lee, September 13, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “The economic recovery is finally providing relief to America’s long-running problem of stagnant middle-class incomes.  The Census Bureau’s unexpectedly-rosy annual report on poverty and incomes, released Tuesday, showed the biggest improvement in decades on both fronts…”
  • Middle class incomes had their fastest growth on record last year, By Jim Tankersley, September 13, 2016, Washington Post: “Middle-class Americans and the poor enjoyed their best year of economic improvement in decades in 2015, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, a spike that broke a years-long streak of disappointment for American workers but did not fully repair the damage inflicted by the Great Recession…”
  • The middle class gets a big raise … finally!, By Tami Luhby, September 13, 2016, CNN Money: “After years of watching their incomes go nowhere, America’s middle class finally got a big raise last year.  Median household income rose to $56,516 in 2015, up 5.2% from a year earlier, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Tuesday. It marks the first increase in median income since 2007, the year before the Great Recession started…”
  • U.S. household income grew 5.2 percent in 2015, breaking pattern of stagnation, By Binyamin Appelbaum, September 13, 2016, New York Times: “Americans last year reaped the largest economic gains in nearly a generation as poverty fell, health insurance coverage spread and incomes rose sharply for households on every rung of the economic ladder, ending years of stagnation…”
  • Has the American economy hit a turning point?, By Deirdre Fernandes and Evan Horowitz, September 13, 2016, Boston Globe: “Middle-class Americans finally got a raise in 2015. And it was a big one.  After years of glacial economic growth and stagnant wages, median household income jumped 5 percent, or nearly $3,000, from 2014, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau. That’s the first meaningful increase since 2007 and the biggest bounce on record, offering fresh evidence that this economic recovery is now reaching a broader swath of American workers…”
  • Americans got raise last year for first time since 2007, By Christopher Rugaber and Jesse J. Holland (AP), September 13, 2016, Miami Herald: “In a long-awaited sign that middle-class Americans are finally seeing real economic gains, U.S. households got a raise last year after seven years of stagnant incomes. Rising pay also lifted the poorest households, cutting poverty by the sharpest amount in nearly a half-century…”
  • Things are getting a lot better for the working poor, By Max Ehrenfreund, September 13, 2016, Washington Post: “Last year marked the greatest improvement in the typical American family’s finances on record, according to a new annual report from the Census Bureau, especially for the working poor…”

Politics and Poverty

How do Americans view poverty? Many blue-collar whites, key to Trump, criticize poor people as lazy and content to stay on welfare, By David Lauter, August 14, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “Sharp differences along lines of race and politics shape American attitudes toward the poor and poverty, according to a new survey of public opinion, which finds empathy toward the poor and deep skepticism about government antipoverty efforts.  The differences illuminate some of the passions that have driven this year’s contentious presidential campaign.  But the poll, which updates a survey The Times conducted three decades ago, also illustrates how attitudes about poverty have remained largely consistent over time despite dramatic economic and social change…”

Politics and Poverty

  • The millions of Americans Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton barely mention: The poor, By Binyamin Appelbaum, August 11, 2016, New York Times: “The United States, the wealthiest nation on Earth, also abides the deepest poverty of any developed nation, but you would not know it by listening to Hillary Clinton or Donald J. Trump, the major parties’ presidential nominees.  Mrs. Clinton, speaking about her economic plans on Thursday near Detroit, underscored her credentials as an advocate for middle-class families whose fortunes have flagged. She said much less about helping the 47 millions Americans who yearn to reach the middle class.  Her Republican rival, Mr. Trump, spoke in Detroit on his economic proposals four days ago, and while their platforms are markedly different in details and emphasis, the candidates have this in common: Both promise to help Americans find jobs; neither has said much about helping people while they are not working…”
  • Trump, Clinton largely avoid talking about poverty on the 2016 campaign trail, By Chris Baker, August 11, 2016, Syracuse Post-Standard: “Can we talk about poverty for a minute? Because no one on the national campaign trail is.  In the lead-up to the presidential election this year, there has been a noticeable lack of discussion about one of America’s most persistent struggles. We’ve heard about jobs, walls, ISIS, Russia and emails, but both candidates have largely skirted large scale issues affecting the poor…”

Rural Poverty – Oklahoma

Rural poverty: ‘A way of life’ for numerous Oklahomans, By Michael Overall, August 8, 2016, Tulsa World: “With no air conditioning on a brutally hot summer afternoon, 19-year-old Breeze Bunch is sitting on the front porch with a half-empty Pepsi and a bottle of sunscreen.  ‘Why don’t you go splash in the water?’ Bunch tells her 2-year-old daughter, who waddles off toward an inflatable kiddie pool under a shade tree beside the house.
Sharing a clapboard house with her boyfriend’s family, Bunch lives on a dead-end street north of downtown in one of the poorest, most crime-ridden neighborhoods in Oklahoma. This isn’t Tulsa or Oklahoma City, or even Muskogee or Lawton. A five-minute walk could put Bunch in the middle of a cow pasture…”

Elder Poverty

Many more elderly people are dying in poverty than we thought, new measurement shows, By Amrith Ramkumar, August 1, 2016, Miami Herald: “When Donald Trump says almost four in 10 black American youths live in poverty, he’s technically correct. According to the official poverty measure, 36 percent of African-Americans under the age of 18 fell below the poverty line in 2014. The problem with that statistic is that the official poverty line is a flawed measurement. It doesn’t take into account benefits like food stamps and tax credits, so unlike the more recent supplemental poverty measure, it can’t account for the fact that earned income and child tax give-backs lower the poverty rate by 3.1 percentage points, and food stamps (formally known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits) cut it by 1.5 percentage points…”

Wisconsin Poverty Report

Report sheds new light on problem of poverty in Wisconsin, By Bill Glauber, June 26, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Despite an increase in jobs, there was no reduction in poverty in Wisconsin between 2013 and 2014 under a broad measure developed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin.  Monday’s release of the eighth Wisconsin Poverty Report, produced by the Institute for Research on Poverty, showed that the poverty rate remained flat.  Unlike the federal government’s official poverty measure — which is based on pretax cash income — the Wisconsin Poverty Measure accounts for family income and government benefits…”

Poverty in the UK

A third of people in the UK have experienced poverty in recent years, By Katie Allen, May 16, 2016, The Guardian: “One in three people have experienced poverty in recent years, according to figures that underline the precarious nature of work in Britain. Anti-poverty campaigners welcomed news that the proportion of people experiencing long-term, or persistent, poverty had declined to one of the lowest rates in the EU. But they highlighted Britons’ relatively high chances of falling into poverty as the latest evidence that a preponderance of low-paying and low-skilled jobs left many families at risk of hardship…”

Suburban Poverty – Ohio

Suburban poverty on the rise in Columbus, By Catherine Candisky, April 27, 2016, Columbus Dispatch: “Columbus has had the biggest jump in suburban poverty in the state.  A new report on Ohio’s poor found nearly 12 percent of suburban Columbus residents live in poverty, up from about 7 percent in 2000.  With 144,164 residents with household incomes below the federal poverty rate, or $24,300 a year for a family of four, Columbus has the state’s greatest concentration of suburban poor, according to the annual State of Poverty commissioned by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies…”

Multidimensional Poverty

Poverty, compounded, By Gillian B. White, April 16, 2016, The Atlantic: “It’s true that poverty affects people of all races, genders, and nationalities, but it’s also true that poverty—especially deep, persistent, intergenerational poverty—plagues some groups more than others. That’s because poverty isn’t just a matter of making too little money to pay the bills or living in a bad neighborhood—it’s about a series of circumstances and challenges that build upon each other, making it difficult to create stability and build wealth…”

Elder Poverty – California

Poverty rate jumps among California seniors, By Claudia Buck and Phillip Reese, March 26, 2016, Sacramento Bee: “The older you are, the poorer you get.  For a growing number of California seniors living on the edges of poverty, that’s the uncomfortable reality.  In the Sacramento region, the number of residents 65 and older living at or below the federal poverty line – $11,400 for a single individual – roughly doubled from 2005 to 2014, according to a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. census data. That means 28,000 seniors, or 9 percent of the region’s elderly population, are officially considered poor.  Statewide, the number of impoverished residents age 65 and older increased by 85 percent, to roughly 520,000, between 1999 and 2014, more than double the rate of population growth among the elderly…”

Chattanooga Times Free Press Series on Poverty

The Poverty Puzzle, series homepage, March 2016, Chattanooga Times Free Press: “Across the Southeast, families are caught in an economic trap they can’t escape, and Chattanooga now finds itself at a turning point. Do we gloss over our toxic secret? Or do we prove, as we have before, that nothing is impossible when a divided city truly unites..?”

Washington Post Series: Lost Opportunity in the Deep South

  • An opportunity gamed away, By Chico Harlan, July 11, 2015, Washington Post: “Her one-story house was slumping inch by inch, day by day, into the wet ground of the Mississippi Delta. Rot climbed up the wooden beams and mildew crept across the ceiling. Soft spots spread across the damp and buckling plywood floor. Holes opened up that led straight to the soil…”
  • Graduating, but to what?, By Chico Harlan, October 17, 2015, Washington Post: “The day of his high school graduation, like so many of the days before, began with chaos. Ruleville Central had pledged to lock its front doors an hour before the ceremony to prevent a crowd overflow, and Jadareous Davis was still at his grandmother’s home six miles up the road, time slipping away. Davis scanned through his mental checklist. Shoes? His older brother hadn’t yet swung by to drop off a pair. Bow tie? Maybe he could borrow one from a neighbor. Pants? Davis wasn’t even sure whether the dress code mandated black or brown, and he called a friend for help…”
  • A grim bargain, By Chico Harlan, December 1, 2015, Washington Post: “People here were so accustomed to the rural quiet, even the distant noises tipped off that something big was coming to the most impoverished corner of Alabama. First they heard chain saws buzzing through the forest, and then they heard trucks jangling along rutted roads, hauling away the timber. Next they heard pavers blazing new asphalt past a cow pasture. And finally they heard the rumblings of a different kind, the first rumors of what was planned for the clearing…”
  • A lonely road, By Chico Harlan, December 28, 2015, Washington Post: “She set off on the latest day of job hunting wearing tiny star-shaped earrings that belonged to her 18-month-old daughter and frayed $6 shoes from Walmart that were the more comfortable of her two pairs. In her backpack she had stashed a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch, hand sanitizer for the bus and pocket change for printing résumés at the public library. She carried a spiral notebook with a handwritten list of job openings that she’d titled her ‘Plan of Action for the Week.’   It had been 20 months since Lauren Scott lost her apartment and six months since she lost her car and 10 weeks since she washed up at a homeless shelter in this suburb south of Atlanta with no money and no job. Her daughter, Za’Niyah, had already lived in seven places, and Scott feared that her child would soon grow old enough to permanently remember the chaos…”

American Community Survey

  • Despite recovery, a big spike in U.S. poverty rates, By Aimee Picchi, December 4, 2015, CBS News: “As many Americans can tell you, the post-recession years haven’t been easy. Now, new data backs that up.  Poverty increased in about one-third of U.S. counties between 2010 to 2014 when compared with the previous five years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which studies more than 3,000 counties (see first map below). Does that mean the rest of the country was lifted into prosperity during those years? Not so much. Only 4 percent of counties saw a decrease in poverty over the more recent span…”
  • Michigan’s poverty rate soars as income drops even in economic rebound, census shows, By Matt Vande Bunte, December 4, 2015, mlive.com: “Median income in three out of every four Michigan cities and villages declined in the past five years, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. At the same time, the share of people living in poverty has risen in two-thirds of the state’s communities. Statewide, more than one out of every six people are living in poverty, a 17 percent increase from five years ago. The median household income in Michigan is now $49,087 per year – up a few hundred bucks from 2009, but when adjusted for inflation it’s down 8.7 percent during that time…”
  • New census data: Bay Area grappling with poverty, housing costs, By Josh Richman, December 2, 2015, San Jose Mercury News: “As the Bay Area recovered from the Great Recession, household incomes increased but so did poverty rates and the cost of housing, according to new data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.  In Santa Clara County, where the tech boom produced tens of thousands of new jobs as the Golden State’s economy rose from the dead, median household income rose 9.7 percent to $93,854 from the five-year period ending in 2009 to the same period ending in 2014…”
  • Household income takes sharp downturn in most of Wisconsin, By Kevin Crowe, December 2, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Median household income fell by a significant margin in two-thirds of Wisconsin counties from 2009 to 2014, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. In Milwaukee County, the median income fell by 10.3% to $43,385. Waukesha County, which had the highest median income in the state at $76,319, saw a 7.1% drop. Washington (-5.2%), Ozaukee (-7.7%) and Racine (-7.9%) counties all experienced declining incomes, as well.  The trend mirrors the nation, which saw median income decline by 7.5% to $53,482, after adjusting for inflation…”

Business in High-Poverty Neighborhoods – Arizona

  • Where the Money Lives: Poor areas of Phoenix offer different business challenges, opportunities, By Mike Sunnucks, November 20, 2015, Phoenix Business Journal: “Kat Proffitt knows how many people perceive the Coronado area of Phoenix, along McDowell Road near 16th Street. ‘They think it’s the ghetto,’ said Proffitt, co-owner of Smooth Brew, a coffee shop at McDowell and 14th Street. ‘They think it’s dangerous.’ Proffitt lives a couple of blocks from where she and partners Clint Coonfer and Darin Toone opened Smooth Brew last May. She insists the neighborhood isn’t as rough as commuters and passers-by might think…”
  • Where the Money Lives: 1 in 5 Arizonans live in poor neighborhoods, By Mike Sunnucks, November 20, 2015, Phoenix Business Journal: “Arizona has some of the poorest ZIP codes in the U.S. and some intense concentrations of poverty. More than one in five Arizonans, 22 percent, live in economically distressed neighborhoods. That is fifth worst among the states, according to the Washington-based Economic Innovation Group…”