Friday, September 17, 2010

Some real people behind the US poverty numbers

As we learned yesterday, the number of poor people in the US increased in 2009 to 43 million people. That jump makes it the largest single year increase in a half century.

The increase in poor people; or those in relative US poverty, is largely due to the global recession. The US government has tried to help the economy by various stimulus packages and extending benefits like unemployment insurance and food stamps. Despite all of this help the people receiving benefits remain poor, and not enough of the stimulus trickles down to the poor working class.

From the Kansas City Star, writer Rick Montogomery profiles some people who only needed help once the recession took their jobs.

The nation’s poverty rate rose sharply last year and the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 10 percent, according to new government figures.

Just further evidence, in cold numbers, of how the second year of the Great Recession sent working men such as Matt Stephens spiraling.

He and hundreds of others lined up this week for free lunches at the Wilhelmina Gill Multi-Service Center in Kansas City, Kan. Stephens, 45, spent a year in college after high school, then attended trade school, drove a truck for pay and also worked in his family’s insulation business.

“I never needed help before the banks went down,” he said.

Before lunch at the Gill Center, Stephens and three other men crowded into facility manager Ondra Penn’s office to discuss the harsh economy and Washington’s response.

They represented in Penn’s view “the fresh face of poverty.”

They included Jerry Butler, 49, a landscaper now competing with undocumented workers for yard work and floor-cleaning and meat-packaging jobs. He is a diabetic who is overextended on his Medicaid coverage and still waiting for the health insurance reforms, signed by Obama into law in March, to reach him.

Stephens noted “the duality in the economic strength of the private sector versus the public sector.”

“Politicians are bailing out the private sector, and none of it seems to be reaching us,” he said.

1 comment:

Admin said...

Thanks for this article. It is a sad state for our country that while so many have so much, people are still struggling to get by.