A study produced from the 2009 census figures and to be released tomorrow is expected to show a significant increase in the nation's rate of poverty. Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, today issued this statement on the matter:
WASHINGTON - Economists and demographers are anticipating that the poverty rate will increase dramatically from 13.2 percent for 2008 to close to 15 percent for 2009. If estimates hold true, it may be the largest single year increase since record keeping began with up to 45 million people in this country, or more than 1 in 7, living in poverty last year. Among the 18-64 working-age population, the demographers expect a rise beyond 12.4 percent, up from 11.7 percent, which is approaching the 1960s levels that led to Lyndon B. Johnson, launching the war on poverty.
“The recent projections for the 2009 rates of poverty in America are disturbing to say the least. Minority communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by higher unemployment and will continue to experience dramatically higher rates of poverty,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
“Most disturbing, is that America’s youngest children will continue to suffer the most. We can expect that more than 40 percent of African American and over 33 percent of Latino children under 6 will have lived 2009 in poverty. It is vital that we have a strong and comprehensive response to this emergency of poverty in America.
“We must not respond to this crisis by attempting to balance our budgets on the backs of the poor. Now is not the time to cut vital programs that keep our children off of the streets and in school and keep families in their homes and fight hunger.
“It is critical that Congress and the entire nation recommit to the fight against poverty, because it is by defeating poverty that we will restore our flagging economy and put our nation back on a path to prosperity.”