A recent analysis of the 2010 Census information by the National Women’s Law Center shows that a record number of women are currently living in poverty – the highest it’s been since 1993. Over 17 million women were living below the poverty line last year, 7.5 million of which were living in extreme poverty. With millions in government aid on the chopping block, particularly for reproductive health services, low-income women are not only bearing the brunt of the state of our economy, but continue to be punished for it. They are suffering the highest rates of poverty, and then receive less government assistance due to “necessary budget cuts” while corporations pay less in taxes. More women living in poverty has many implications; higher unemployment rates, increase in stress-induced health problems (as well as decrease in ability to access health care), and more children being born into poverty.
One in six people now live in poverty, which, for individuals, is defined as making an income of less than around $11,000/year. Making just more than this amount, though, certainly is not a livable wage, so how many more people are not counted by this rate, yet are struggling to survive? Certainly many young people, particularly students, who are faced with high unemployment rates and very low incomes. The most dramatic increase in the poverty rate has been for children and the youngest work-age adults, ages 18-24. Students are getting hit hard upon graduation, when no jobs are to be found. “It’s just a wretched time to be starting out in your career,” said Kristen Lewis, co-director of the nonprofit American Human Development Project. “Unfortunately, it’s been tremendously difficult for people trying to get their first job.” Students are increasingly faced with taking low-paying jobs or unpaid internships, often moving back in with their parents in order to save money. Of course, having this support system is a privilege in itself in these terrible economic times, as is going to college. Unfortunately, with the poverty rate continuing to rise, less and less people will have access to higher education.
46.2 million people now live in poverty. With such high numbers of poverty and unemployment, we cannot afford to see our government assistance programs like Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, SNAP, and unemployment benefits disappear; they have helped to keep millions more out of poverty. And with these apparent overlapping interests between the working class, people of color, young people, and women, it is imperative that we recognize our intersectional needs in this tough economy and work together to fight for higher wages, higher employment rates, government assistance programs, and other things that will at least temporarily help those most in need and decrease this horrendously high rate of poverty.
Image from Wikimedia Commons User 4wallz
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