3.8 Million Americans Live on $2 a Day

Saturday, March 17, 2012
People living on only a few dollars a day are supposed to dwell in developing countries, not wealthy ones like the United States. But a new report says millions of Americans struggle to get by on less than $2 per day.
The University of Michigan’s National Poverty Center found the number of U.S. households living in “extreme poverty”—or with less than $2 per person per day—for at least one month of the year more than doubled between 1996 and 2011, from 636,000 to 1,460,000. Since the average American household contains 2.58 members, this means that about 3.8 million adults and children fall into this category. The study by H. Luke Shaefer and Kathryn Edin estimates that 2.8 million of these are children. About 866,000 households were in the $2 a day per person range for a full three-month period.
Since the passing of welfare reform in 1996, the number of poor Americans receiving cash assistance from government sources has plunged from 12.3 million per month to 4.4 million in June 2011. Those in extreme poverty in the United States are saved from worse conditions by the SNAP (Food Stamp) program and access to health insurance for children. About one in five also receive housing subsidies.
Forty-five percent of residents living in extreme-poverty neighborhoods are African-American and two-thirds ended their education after high school.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Makers, Takers and $2-a-dayers (by Michelle Chen, In These Times)
Extreme Poverty in the United States, 1996 to 2011 (by H. Luke Shaefer and Kathryn Edin, National Poverty Center) (pdf)

Extreme Poverty Neighborhoods Make a Comeback in U.S (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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