The Rate is Up
The U.S. Census Bureau announced on Tuesday that in 2010, median household income declined, the poverty rate increased and the percentage without health insurance coverage was not statistically different from the previous year.
The poverty rate in 2010 was the highest since 1993 For a family of four, the census set the poverty line at a combined annual income of $22,314. For a single person, the level is set at $11,139.
Real median household income in the United States in 2010 was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline from the 2009 median.
The nation’s official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009 ─ the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. That’s one in every six people. There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009 ─ the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.
For What’s It’s Worth
The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:
Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe.
Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.
Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation
Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels.
Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
What Does This Mean?
As I look at this list, I guess I was raised as a child in poverty.Funny I didn’t think we were poor. I thought I was firmly middle class. A lot of my early pictures were of me shirtless and shoeless.
For about half my childhood we only had one vehicle. One TV. I think I was ten before we got a color set, heck everybody had one at that point. Even my sixty something grandpa. I had only three TV channels.
Hell yeah my housing conditions were over crowded. Just ask my brother. We had to share a room. We didn’t have a dishwasher. Oh they were out but that’s what kids are for. We had an air conditioner. A single swamp cooler blowing in a single air duct in the hallway.
Data from the American Housing Survey indicates, “severe physical problems”, the most common are repeated heating breakdowns and multiple upkeep problems. Yup I must be poor. My POS heater / AC unit crapped out twice this year.
Some poor households fare better than the average household described above. Others are worse off. I don’t intend to be mean spirited, I know there are plenty of people that are in dire needs, but most impoverished people are are rather comfortable. Maybe that’s what keeps them there. With no real reason to improve the situation, many languish at the fringe of society. I know we’re in the middle of a real doosey of a recession but I also have known of people that was also in that fringe in boom times also. I personally have worked ten hour days, only to face another three or four hours of class time. That allows me the right to put a degree down on a resume and beat out the guy who found it too inconvenient to commit to anything. I know someone who was almost 35 before he paid off student loans. Such is the sacrifice made to better one self. Even now as I work in a job that requires much shift work, evenings and nights, that’s the price I pay for the life I want.
What to do?
As I’ve said before. If you have children, get married and stay married. If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, almost three-quarters would immediately be lifted out of poverty. Stay in school. If out, then get back in. Strive for education. College doesn’t mean Harvard only. There are thousand of community colleges or trade schools out there. If you have a job, do everything you can to keep it. Go to church. Hey you can cry freedom of religion, but if you’re poor give it a try first. Don’t commit crimes stay out of jail.That limits your chances. And we have to accept personal responsibility. Forget what the other guy is doing, become responsible for your own acts.