July 23, 2014
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No Increase in Poverty Rate for African Americans, Though it Remains Higher than Other Minorities


Washington, DC, – Annual data released today by the U.S Census Bureau indicates that almost 40 million Americans now live in poverty, the highest number since 1997.   This is an increase of 2.6  million Americans in 2008.   This news comes at a time when the country is experiencing the highest rate of unemployment in over 25 years.

“As stark as these figures are, they do not paint a complete picture of America's struggling low-income families,” said Rev. David Beckmann. “This year’s increase is just a preview of what we are likely to see in next year’s numbers, which will capture the full impact of the recession on poverty in America.”

Data released by the government last week indicated that the unemployment rate has reached 9.7 percent, the highest since 1983 and two and a half percent higher than in December of 2008. Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- formerly known as food stamps -- has increased by almost 3.5 million in the first 6 months of this year, to reaching a total of 35 million or one out of every nine Americans.

“Even though we are seeing signs that the economy is turning a corner, we need to remember that low-income families are the first hurt and last to recover during a recession,” said Rev. Beckmann. “We need to recognize that there are still and will continue to be millions of struggling families and we have to make sure that they get the help they need to get by.”        

Additional Census Bureau Report findings for 2008 include:

  • For children younger than 18, the poverty rate increased from 18 percent in 2007 to 19 percent in 2008, bringing the number of children living in poverty to 14.1  million, an increase of almost 1 million children. 

·          In 2008, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic whites (8.6 percent in 2008, up from 8.2 percent in 2007), Asian-Americans (11.8 percent in 2008, up from 10.2 percent in 2007), and Hispanics (23.2 percent in 2008, up from 21.5 percent in 2007). The poverty rate in 2008 was statistically unchanged for African-Americans (24.7 percent).

According to Rev. Beckmann, even before the recession, working families were struggling to make ends meet. 

“Next year brings an important opportunity to make changes to our tax policy that will increase the resources families need to put food on the table,” he said. “Bread for the World will make tax reforms to benefit low-income families our top priority in 2010.”   

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Bread for the World (www.bread.org) is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.       



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