Economic Growth Leaves the Poorest Americans Behind

There has been economic growth since the Great Recession’s end in 2009. But it has hardly reached the poorest Americans. Poverty declined from 15.8 percent in 2013 to 15.5 percent in 2014. 1 But even after years of economic growth, the poverty rate was still higher than its 2010 level of 15.3 percent, when the nation was still reeling from the Great Recession.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 14 percent of American households were “food insecure” at some point during 2014 – that is, they could not always afford enough food. SNAP reduces such hardships, but cuts in SNAP that occurred at the end of October 2013 cut the average benefit from $1.70 per meal to $1.40. According to health researchers at Children’s HealthWatch, that cutback made SNAP households with children under age three 23 percent more likely to be food insecure, placing the children at risk for bad health and education outcomes. If Congress seeks to offset the cost of stopping sequestration, it should close tax loopholes or end a few corporate tax breaks.

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