Poverty in US Might Reach Highest Since 1960s

Poverty is spreading across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families. The Associated Press surveyed more than a dozen economists, with the factor involving how they think about the economy, academics, on election and how decision making would reflect: Official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent to 2010, for the census figure for 2011 will be released this year ahead of November election.

Several predict even 0.1 percentage of increase in poverty will increase would put poverty at the highest level since 1965.

“I grew up going to Hawaii every summer. Now I’m here, applying for assistance because it’s hard to make ends meet. It’s very hard to adjust,” said Laura Fritz, 27, of Wheat Ridge, Colo., describing her slide from rich to poor as she filled out aid forms at a county center. Since 2000, large swaths of Jefferson County just outside Denver have seen poverty nearly double.

Millions fall under the government aid from unemployment insurance, Medicaid, welfare and food stamp diminishes. Longer term changes in the economy such as globalization, automation, outsourcing, immigration and less unionization has pushed household income lower.

Stacey Mazer of the National Association of State Budget Officers said states will be watching for poverty increases when figures are released in September as they make decisions about the Medicaid expansion. Most states generally assume poverty levels will hold mostly steady and they will hesitate if the findings show otherwise. “It’s a constant tension in the budget,” she said

Poverty is closely tied to joblessness. The analysts’ estimates 1 in 6 were poor last year. An increase of even 0.1 percentages would tie the 1983 poverty rate. Strange thing is unemployment rate improved from 9.6 percent in 2010 to 8.9 percent in 2011.

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