Sep 21, 2019

Poverty is still a huge problem in America

Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

You might have heard that the poverty rate in America has finally fallen below its pre-recession level — but what has been less reported is that the number of Americans living in poverty is still higher than it was in 2007.

Why it matters: It's even higher than it was in 1964, when the War on Poverty began.

  • The number of Americans living in poverty — 38.1 million — is roughly the same as the population of California.
  • The poverty line for a family with 2 adults and 2 children is set at an annual income of $25,465.

Flashback: In January 1964, President Lyndon Johnson used his State of the Union address to launch an "unconditional war on poverty." The effort encompassed Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and expanded Social Security benefits.

  • The good news: Johnson's measures worked. The poverty rate in America fell from 19% in 1964 to just 11.1% in 1973.
  • The bad news: The poverty rate stopped falling in 1973, and in no year since then has it been that low. Meanwhile, thanks to the growing U.S. population, the absolute number of Americans in poverty has crept back to its early-1960s levels. It hit an all-time high of 46.3 million in 2010 — more than double the low point in 1973.

The bottom line: In the 1960s, inequality was a problem caused by the high prevalence of poverty. Today, it's much more about the wealth of the top 1%. Poverty, however, remains a huge problem in America.

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Limited broadband access hurts economic mobility in poorest states

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Among the states that have fallen furthest behind on broadband access, a new Census Bureau report found that several also have some of the highest levels of poverty in the nation.

Why it matters: Inequality and the lack of broadband access have become inherently intertwined in the U.S. Without reliable high-speed internet access, it is more difficult to apply to the jobs and educational programs that can help people escape poverty. Similarly, those on limited incomes struggle to afford broadband access even where it's available.

Go deeperArrowOct 9, 2019

MIT, Harvard professors win Nobel Prize in Economics for research on poverty

Photo by Jonathan Nickstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Three professors who studied ways to alleviate poverty won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science on Monday, the AP reports.

Why it matters: With their research, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, both of MIT, and Michael Kremer of Harvard introduced a new approach to addressing global poverty by dividing the issue into more manageable questions. Duflo, 46, is the youngest person and 2nd woman ever to receive a Nobel Prize in Economics.

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Keep ReadingArrowOct 14, 2019

Broadband's entrenched inequality

Data: Axios research. Note: Prices do not include taxes, except Starry.; Table: Axios Visuals

The results of a new Census Bureau report reveal significant overlap between areas of limited broadband access and concentrated poverty.

Why it matters: "Inequality and the lack of broadband access have become inherently intertwined in the U.S.," Francella Ochillo, executive director of Next Century Cities, writes for Axios Expert Voices.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019