U.S. poverty rate declines significantly
The nation's poverty rate dropped last year, the first significant decline since President Bush took office.Here's the reality-based breakdown from the CBPP:
Today’s figures also show that while the overall poverty rate declined slightly (from 12.6 percent to 12.3 percent) between 2005 and 2006, the decline was largely concentrated among the elderly. The poverty rates for children and for working age adults remained statistically unchanged as compared to 2005, and well above their levels in 2001, when the last recession hit bottom.Even more disturbing was this data:
The percentage of Americans who lack health insurance stood at 15.8 percent in 2006, up from 15.3 percent in 2005. The number of people who are uninsured rose by 2.2 million in 2006, to 47 million, the highest level on record (with comparable data going back to 1999).I don't call those significant achievements by any stretch of the imagination and, as the EPI points out, once again it's the households at the top who gained the most:
Between 2000 and 2006, the average income of the lowest fifth is down 4.5%, the middle fifth is down 2.5%, and only the top fifth is up, by 1%. Similarly, today’s report revealed that the share of income going to the top fifth of households was 50.5%, the highest share on record going back to 1967. The middle-income share was 14.5%, the lowest on record. The bottom income share has been 3.4% since 2003, also an historic low.Although the decline in poverty rates for the elderly was welcome news, living standards have not recovered to their levels in 2000 when poverty was 11.3% compared to 12.3% in 2006. That's an increase in the poverty rolls of 4.9 million persons, including 1.2 million children. Same for median household income. In 2006 it was $48,201, about $1,000 dollars (minus 2%) below its 2000 level.
No wonder consumer sentiment continues to fall. As Robert Greenstein, executive director of the CBPP notes:
“Five years into an economic recovery, the country has yet to make progress in reducing poverty, raising the typical working-age family’s income, or stemming the rise in the ranks of the uninsured, compared even to where we were in the last recession. The new figures on median income and poverty are the latest evidence that the economic growth of the past few years has been very uneven, with the gains being concentrated among those who already are the most well off. Too many middle- and low-income families are not sharing in the gains.”All I can say is, the Bush administration should be ashamed.