New Census Data Shows Poverty Down, and Powerful Impact of Anti-Poverty Policies like EITC

Meredith Dodson, RESULTS Director of US Poverty Campaigns
September 13, 2016

We have some good news to report – poverty in the U.S. is declining. This morning, the Census Bureau released its latest income and poverty data, showing that the poverty rate declined from 14.8 percent in 2014 to 13.5 percent in 2015. That means that 3.5 million fewer Americans lived in poverty in 2015. The poverty rate for children also dropped from 21.1 percent to 19.7 percent. This is encouraging news indeed.

But, we cannot celebrate when 1 in 10 US households had incomes below $13,300 last year. When one in seven Americans still live below the federal poverty line (just over $24,000 for a family of four). When almost one in five American children are living in poverty.

Instead, we must act!Impact of EITC, SNAP, etc from Census Supplemental Poverty Measure, 2015

Media outlets across the country will be covering the release of this data, giving us a chance to connect the dots between policy decisions and the struggles of people in our community. This is a chance to urge candidates for office and policymakers to support expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for young workers and others not raising children in the home. The Census’s Supplemental Poverty Measure showed the pro-work EITC and Child Tax Credit lifted 9.2 million Americans above the poverty line in 2015. Congress and the new President should build on bipartisan proposals to expand the EITC. 

TAKE ACTION: Keep the spotlight on poverty in the U.S. by responding to coverage of the election or the new data by writing a letter to the editor (you can tailor our talking points or use our template) to your local papers about poverty and the opportunity to support bipartisan efforts to expand the EITC. Find contact information for media outlets in your area with our Media Guide at http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/media/. Be sure to send your published pieces to your members of Congress and congressional candidates!

Note: if multiple members of your local RESULTS group are sending letters to the same paper, I urge some you to tailor our sample letters on the racial wealth gap or hunger insteadWe must seize this opportunity to make ending poverty in America a priority. To do so, we need media attention on poverty to be more than a one-day affair, and then we need to hold policymakers accountable. Join us!

To learn more about RESULTS and our work to end poverty in America and around the world, visit us at www.results.org.