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More Americans working their way out of poverty - The United States has the lowest poverty rate

Posted: Sep 20th, 2019 - 7:02 am

it has seen since 2001, the U.S. Census Bureau reported last week. The overall poverty rate dropped from 12.3 percent in 2017 to 11.8 percent last year. The slight percentage drop finally brings the poverty rate below its 2007 number, marking further recovery from the Great Recession.

Full-time work and wages are also on the rise, as evidenced by hiring sprees at large companies. On Tuesday, Amazon, the country’s second-largest employer, hosted job fairs in six major cities. The company is looking for 30,000 new workers by next year, from software engineers who can earn more than $100,000 a year to warehouse staff paid at least $15 an hour. In Dallas, hundreds turned out for the hiring event. Amazon plans to open an air cargo hub at Fort Worth Alliance Airport in October to help speed up its deliveries.

Across the country, full-time, year-round workers increased by 2.3 million in 2018, and the median earnings for women increased. The report also showed the percentage of poor families led by single mothers dropped to the lowest on record (24.9), but the poverty rate for families headed by married couples (4.7) was still almost five times lower. Median income for family households increased, and so did median income for non-family households.

“This continued decline in poverty is what you would expect at this point in the economic cycle, given strong job growth and very low unemployment rates,” wrote Matt Weidinger, a fellow in poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

The Census Bureau also reported that fewer Americans had health insurance in 2018. Decreases in Medicaid coverage drove the trend; the number of people who had private health insurance stayed about the same. Many blame President Donald Trump’s changes to the Affordable Care Act such as cutting subsidies for insurance and doing away with the individual health coverage mandate. But the strong job market could also be a factor as people move into higher-paying jobs and no longer qualify for Medicaid.

Angela Rachidi, also a fellow on poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told The World and Everything in It that the numbers encouraged her. “At the individual level … it’s the lowest official poverty rate that we’ve seen since the very strong economy of the late 1990s. In terms of child poverty, also the lowest,” she said. “You just go up and down the line, and I think it was just overwhelmingly positive news when it comes to poverty.”

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