0.4 Percent Change Means 1.3 Million More Living in Poverty
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