In America, $11,000 a Year Is Not Poor In America, $11,000 a Year Is Not Poor
Social Innovation

In America, $11,000 a Year Is Not Poor

by Morgan Clendaniel

September 18, 2010

New data released by the U.S. Census today found that 14 percent of Americans live below the poverty line. This is the highest percentage of poor people in America since 1994. But as the chart above shows, that 14 percent represents 43.6 million Americans, the largest total number of Americans living below the poverty line ever.

Some other facts: One in five children now live in poverty. One in four black and Hispanic Americans live in poverty. These are not acceptable numbers.

Besides being generally outraged that our country is failing to provide for so many of our citizens, let's examine the real absurdity: The poverty line is $10,830. A year. For a family of four, the poverty line is $22,050, which is even worse. The idea that, statistically, we are comfortable calling someone making less than $20,000 a year anything other than poor is simply wrong. Maybe if we recalibrated how we defined our economic classes, we would discover that even more of America isn't doing well, financially, and maybe make more of an effort to do something meaningful about the problem.

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In America, $11,000 a Year Is Not Poor