0.4 Percent Change Means 1.3 Million More Living in Poverty

Aug 30, 2004

By George Anderson

It’s common to hear announcers talk about the difference between success and failure in various sporting events as being a matter of inches.

The same, it seems, can also be said of the U.S. economy where the slightest movement of a key indicator can mean millions more are enjoying their success or simply figuring
out how to get by.

The latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2003, reports that those living in poverty inched up
0.4 percent between 2002 and last year. In the process, 1.3 million more people are now living in poverty conditions. In total, 35.9 million people (12.5 percent of the population)
in the U.S. now live in poverty.

Children are the hardest hit according to the government’s report. The poverty rate for children rose to 17.6 percent from 16.7 percent. The poverty rate for those aged 18 and
above remained unchanged.

The Census report also found that 0.4 percent more of the U.S. population is now going without health insurance coverage. Between 2002 and 2003, the net number of people without
health insurance rose by 400,000. All told, 15.6 percent of the population or 45 million people are without health coverage.

The biggest area for health insurance fall-off was in employer-based programs. Those covered by employer plans was down 0.9 percent between 2002 and last year.

Moderator’s Comment: What will the increased numbers of those living in poverty and without health insurance mean for those manufacturing consumer goods
and operating retail businesses in the country?

It’s no coincidence that businesses such as dollar stores and limited assortment/extreme value grocery stores are the fastest growing formats in the country.

Wealthier Americans may like the “treasure hunting” thrill of dollar stores but the simple truth is the country is becoming increasingly polarized economically.
Poorer Americans, those in this country illegally and working for below market wages need the Dollar Generals, Save-A-Lots and Wal-Mart. They’d be even harder pressed than they
are now to make ends meet without them.

George Anderson – Moderator

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1 Comment on "0.4 Percent Change Means 1.3 Million More Living in Poverty"

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Steve Peek
Steve Peek
17 years 8 months ago

Someone left out part of the equation. Check and you will see in 2003 the Federal Government increased the annual income income bar by about $10k. The raising of the bar is a primary reason for the increase this year.

Regarding health insurance, ‘survey says’ a little over 20% of the uninsured are employed people between 18-30 who choose not to pay for insurance plans as they gamble on youthful health while another 15% are people with annual incomes over $75k who choose to self-insure or IRA insure themselves.