Washington: The number of Americans living in
extreme poverty has grown by more than one-third over the past
decade, the Brookings Institution said in a study.
Over the past decade, the number of US residents living
below the federal poverty line -- defined in 2010 as having an
income of USD 22,314 for a family of four -- has grown by 12.3
million, read the report from the prestigious think-tank.
The number of Americans living in poverty has reached "a
historic high of 46.2 million," equivalent to more than 15 per
cent of the US population, the report said.
People in extreme-poverty neighbourhoods -- where at least
40 per cent of residents live below the poverty line --
increased by one-third from 2000 to 2009 though these
increases were not even across the country, read the report.
Brookings, which based its study on 2000-2009 income data
from the US Census Bureau, notes that the fall erases economic
gains from the 1990s.
Concentrated poverty nearly doubled in Midwestern US
cities like Detroit, Michigan and Dayton, Ohio between 2000
and 2009, and rose by one-third in southern US cities like
Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Jackson, Mississippi.
"These trends suggest the strong economy of the late 1990s
did not permanently resolve the challenge of concentrated
poverty," Brookings wrote.
"The slower economic growth of the 2000s, followed by the
worst downturn in decades, led to increases in neighborhoods
of extreme poverty once again throughout the nation,
particularly in suburban and small metropolitan communities
and in the Midwest."
According to the report, government policies "that foster
balanced and sustainable economic growth at the regional
level, and that forge connections between growing clusters of
low-income neighborhoods and regional economic opportunity,
will be key to longer-term progress against concentrated
Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday
that as of August nearly 15 per cent of Americans rely on food
stamps -- weekly US government stipends -- for survival.
The Journal, using US Department of Agriculture data, said
that more than 21 per cent of residents in the southern state
of Mississippi rely on food stamps, as well as one-fifth of
New Mexico, Tennessee and Louisiana residents.