Not a day goes by when you don’t read a news headline that speaks of poverty in the United States. Even as yet another vote on a possible emergency unemployment extension draws near, and John Boehner once again threatens that it won’t pass, millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis.
But what exactly is the face of poverty?
As many would have you to believe, it’s the single mothers dealing with dead beat dads. Or even lazy people who want to live off the government. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
1. Single moms are the problem. Only 9 percent of low-income, urban moms have been single throughout their child’s first five years. Thirty-five percent were married to, or in a relationship with, the child’s father for that entire time.*
2. Absent dads are the problem. Sixty percent of low-income dads see at least one of their children daily. Another 16 percent see their children weekly.*
3. Black dads are the problem. Among men who don’t live with their children, black fathers are more likely than white or Hispanic dads to have a daily presence in their kids’ lives.
4. Poor people are lazy. In 2004, there was at least one adult with a job in 60 percent of families on food stamps that had both kids and a nondisabled, working-age adult.
5. If you’re not officially poor, you’re doing okay. The federal poverty line for a family of two parents and two children in 2012 was $23,283. Basic needs cost at least twice that in 615 of America’s cities and regions.
6. Go to college, get out of poverty. In 2012, about 1.1 million people who made less than $25,000 a year, worked full time, and were heads of household had a bachelor’s degree.**
7. We’re winning the war on poverty. The number of households with children living on less than $2 a day per person has grown 160 percent since 1996, to 1.65 million families in 2011.
8. The days of old ladies eating cat food are over. The share of elderly single women living in extreme poverty jumped 31 percent from 2011 to 2012.
The thing is this information is readily available for anyone to research. But those pointing the fingers typically prefer to avoid facts.