STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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Census to release poverty numbers showing America likely back at 1965 levels

Michael Newman

Tomorrow the Census Bureau will release estimates on how many Americans were living in poverty during 2011.Back in July there were stories about how this report is likely to be seriously depressing.

The report is likely to demonstrate that, proportionally, as many people live in poverty around the country now as in 1965 (the year the government first developed the thresholds we know as the "poverty line").

In 1965 Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty" was in its infancy. Numerically we might be back where we started, but poverty has changed quite a bit in the intervening decades.

In the mid-sixties poverty was likely to be mostly a rural concern. According to the USDA that's still true, but less so since rural poverty has been falling and urban poverty has been increasing since 1959. (An interesting aside and statistical debunk to popular perception included in the USDA analysis was the fact that rural people living in poverty are much more dependent on government benefits than the urban poor).

Childhood poverty has increased pretty dramatically as well.Almost 1 in 6 American kids lives in poverty,and Michigan's numbers are the same. Even more shocking, when data is collected on kids growing up in low-income households that number balloons to 42% of all children in the state.  

Across the state these kids are likely to have poorly educated and unmarried parents, live in a rural area and are less likely to have a parent employed full-time.  Perhaps most disheartening is that economic mobility in America being what it is, these kids are statistically unlikely to be able to climb the economic ladder and provide much more income security for their children.

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