Dec 9, 2013
How Much Money to End Poverty in America?
Posted on Sep 26, 2013
The Census Bureau’s annual income and poverty figures for 2012 show the percentage of Americans living in poverty is essentially unchanged from the year before, at 15 percent. That’s 46.5 million Americans, more than one in five kids below age 18 and one in four under age 6.
Matt Bruenig at The American Prospect did the calculations and determined it would take $173.5 billion to bring those Americans just above the official poverty line. For a family of four, that’s $23,555. That’s not a lot to live on, making the target less than ambitious. So what would it take to vault 46.5 million people to twice the poverty level? Double the cost—$347 billion?
That’s far less than Americans would have if workers were permitted to share in the wealth that was created since the 1970s, however. As Mother Jones magazine reported in 2011: “If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.” Because it would be rapidly spent, that kind of money in workers’ pockets would end the demand crisis that’s keeping the economy stalled for the majority of Americans.
In 2012, the amount Bruenig calculated would be required to lift low- to no-income Americans out of poverty was 1.08 percent of the nation’s GDP, the overall size of the economy. He puts the numbers in further perspective below.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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