Bad News on Poverty, Worse to Come

September 16, 2009, by Isabel Sawhill

“With unemployment continuing to creep up to levels not seen for decades, a lot of focus has been placed on the sheer number of people without jobs. But high rates of joblessness are also pushing more people into poverty. More disturbing still is the fact that they are likely to stay there for a long time. Indeed, the poverty rate will likely remain higher than it was in 2007 for at least a decade.

The most recent data, just released by the Census Bureau, show that the poverty rate increased from 12.5 to 13.2 percent between 2007 and 2008. But this is just the tip of the iceberg; the effects of the recession on unemployment rates — and more specifically, poverty — will be felt for many years to come, according to our analysis. Thus, in the absence of a stronger safety net or more opportunity for those at the bottom, the recession could end up widening income disparities in the U.S. — disparities that were already large, long before the economic meltdown began.

Read this entire op-ed on Brookings’ website.

Read Isabel Sawhill and Emily Monea’s full analysis, “Simulating the Effect of the ‘Great Recession’ on Poverty.”

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