NETWORK is committed to work on federal legislation designed to alleviate poverty and its effects. Each fall, when the U.S. Census Bureau releases its Poverty Report, based on statistics from the previous year, we are reminded that disparities between those with the greatest wealth in this nation and all others continues to grow.
It is expected that when official 2009 and 2010 poverty rates come out, they will be higher than the 2008 rate (13.2%). They may be about 15%, and it is expected that it will take many years for them to fall back to the 2000 rate—11.3%.
It is important to remember that NETWORK and many poverty-alleviation advocates have long complained that official Census Bureau rates do not accurately count the number of people struggling in poverty. Most believe that the current measure, which was adopted in the 1960s, is insufficient, even misleading, since it does not take into account various federal and state benefits (e.g., EITC) or important expenses like child care, housing and out-of-pocket medical expenditures that have risen steeply in recent decades.
The Census Bureau announced in March 2010 that it plans to develop a supplemental poverty measure. The new measure is scheduled to be unveiled in the fall of 2011 and should help guide future policymaking. It will not replace the current measure, but it will give us a new, improved way to judge the effectiveness of programs and policies designed to lift people out of poverty. NETWORK supports this action.