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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Day: November 7, 2011

Supplemental Poverty Measure

  • US poverty at new high: 16 percent, or 49.1M, By Hope Yen (AP), November 7, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle: “A record number of Americans – 49.1 million – are poor, based on a new census measure that for the first time takes into account rising medical costs and other expenses. The numbers released Monday are part of a first-ever supplemental poverty measure aimed at providing a fuller picture of poverty. Although considered experimental, they promise to stir fresh debate over Social Security, Medicare and programs to help the poor as a congressional supercommittee nears a Nov. 23 deadline to make more than $1 trillion in cuts to the federal budget. Based on the revised formula, the number of poor people exceeds the record 46.2 million, or 15.1 percent, that was officially reported in September…”
  • Seniors falling into poverty faster in new census measure, By Esmé E. Deprez, November 7, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle: “More Americans, and a greater percentage of the elderly, were poor in 2010 than the U.S. Census Bureau estimated in September, new figures from the agency show. The bureau used an alternate method to calculate that 16 percent of Americans, or 49.1 million people, lived in poverty in 2010, up from the official rate of 15.2 percent, or 46.6 million, according to a report released today. The new measure put the proportion of indigent Americans 65 and older at 15.9 percent, an increase from the official 9 percent rate. Among those under 18, the new rate was 18.2 percent, a drop from the official rate of 22.5 percent. The new Supplemental Poverty Measure is a ‘more complex statistic,’ showing how much families spend on food, shelter, clothing and utilities, the bureau said. It finds that medical out-of-pocket expenses have the largest proportional effect on disposable income of any expense or benefit, and takes into account how geographic differences can alter housing costs…”
  • New data show grim picture of poverty, By Allison Linn, November 7, 2011, “More Americans are living in difficult circumstances than the official data show, according to a new and sobering gauge of poverty. The new indicator, called the Supplemental Poverty Measure, estimates that 49.1 million were grappling with very difficult economic circumstances in 2010, compared with 46.6 million under the standard poverty definition. The poverty rate under the supplemental measure is 16 percent, compared with 15.2 percent under the official measure…”

Wealth Gap by Age in the US

  • Census data show wealth of older Americans is 47 times that of young adults, widest gap ever, Associated Press, November 7, 2011, Washington Post: “The wealth gap between younger and older Americans has stretched to the widest on record, worsened by a prolonged economic downturn that has wiped out job opportunities for young adults and saddled them with housing and college debt. The typical U.S. household headed by a person age 65 or older has a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by someone under 35, according to an analysis of census data released Monday. While people typically accumulate assets as they age, this wealth gap is now more than double what it was in 2005 and nearly five times the 10-to-1 disparity a quarter-century ago, after adjusting for inflation…”
  • Why the wealth gap between young and old is wider than ever, By Mark Trumbull, November 7, 2011, Christian Science Monitor: “The wealth divide between older and younger Americans has widened sharply in recent years – because of both the deep recession and longer-term trends. That’s the conclusion of a new analysis released by the Pew Research Center, which looked at an array of government numbers to reach its conclusions. In all, the typical household headed by someone younger than 35 has seen its net worth fall by 68 percent between 1984 and 2009, after adjusting for inflation, according to the Pew report released Monday. Those in the 35-to-44 age group also saw a decline in net worth over that period, a drop of 44 percent…”

State Medicaid Cuts

Medicaid cost cuts planned, By Guy Boulton, November 6, 2011, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin is not alone in dealing with the thorny task of trying to lower the cost of its health care programs for low-income residents. Massachusetts no longer pays for restorative dental care and dentures. Washington no longer covers eyeglasses and hearing aids. Minnesota no long covers chiropractic care. Illinois, Iowa and other states planned to require a $50 co-payment for unnecessary visits to emergency departments. And California has proposed a $50 co-payment for all visits to emergency departments and a co-payment of $100 for hospital stays that last one day and $200 for longer stays. Every state plans to implement at least one policy to control Medicaid spending this fiscal year, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. In Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services has proposed dozens of changes in the BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid programs to close a $500 million gap in their budget…”