The Working Poor

16 Sep

The Census Bureau released the results of the 2010 census this week and the statistics are staggering.  It has been reported that almost 1 in 6 Americans are living below the poverty line.  The actual number of Americans living below the poverty line is “46.2 million people and was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it” (see the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/us/14census.html).   Poverty in the United States is measured by comparing the annual income with the federal poverty standard which the federal government updates annually for inflation.  In 2010, the official poverty guidelines were $10,830 for an individual, $14,570 for a family of 2, $22,050 for a family of 4.

What we haven’t seen in the news is the demographics of the 46.2 million Americans living below the poverty line.  We must be curious  – who does this number include? women? children? men? elderly? and what are the percentages of each demographic included in that number?  I know that poverty transcends gender, age and in this economic climate, even education levels.  Nonetheless, a study of these statistics reveals that this economic crisis has impacted women more than men.

Today, I learned that the poverty rates for single mothers was 40.7% in 2010 as compared to single dads which was 24.2%.  That means that there was a 68% greater rate for single mother families to be living below the poverty line than single father families.  Many of the women included in the 40.7% number are working mothers trying to make ends meet and finding it virtually impossible in this economic climate.

This statistics are unacceptable.  We live in the richest country in the world and we have 46.2 million Americans earning less than $22,000 a year for their family.  I urge you to think about this when you vote in the coming elections, I urge you to think about the organizations that you donate your charitable dollars and to focus your attention on organizations that have plans to help get Americans, single moms, back to work.

I volunteer with an organization whose mission is to “achieve sustained economic security and justice for women and girls” right here in New York City.  They achieve their mission by granting funds that they have raised to organizations in New York City that provide resources and services to transform the conditions of poverty for women and girls. 

There is no time like now to support not for profits with mission statements similar to this one in your communities.  Support them with your dollars, with your time, with your talents.  If you’d like to learn more about the organization I volunteer with – I would be happy to share that information with you.  I read once that the fastest way to make change in the world is to empower woman.  If we want to see change in our community, in our country – we need to empower woman and help them find gainful employment so that they may support their families.

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2 Responses to “The Working Poor”

  1. GG September 18, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    I couldn’t agree more. I volunteer to help mentor young women in my community before they get married and become baby machines. When thing are not going right in a marriage, a woman who has no financial security is less likely to leave. They need to be educated early on so they do not end up single moms earning minimum wage.

    • CityMama September 19, 2011 at 1:41 am #

      That is amazing work you are doing. I didn’t really think about financial security when Kyle was born. I was forced to go back to work because of my situation. In the end, it was the best thing I did for us. I did want to be home with him as an infant but you never know where life is going to take you – and with your own income you can make your way – so going back to work was a blesing at the time.

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