According to the United States Census Bureau, there are over 50 million U.S. citizens living in poverty. The highest number since the Great Depression.
The number of people living in poverty increased by 6,667,000, according to the Census Bureau’s recent report. That’s an increase of 16.73 percent, an increase of nearly 3 percent in four years.
In fact, the median household income has fallen to a four year low, $51,017. In 2008, real median household income in the United States was $53,644. That’s a decline of $2,627 or 4.89 percent from 2008 to 2012.
In 2008, the percentage of people living in poverty was at 13.2 percent of the nation’s population. In 2012, those impoverished residents was at 15 percent of the total U.S. population.
A family of two making less than $14,937 was considered impoverished. The family of three earning $18,284 or less was living in poverty. And a family of four making $23,492 was living in poverty.
A current Dispatch poll asked this question: “What is a ‘living wage’ for a family of four in the Brainerd lakes area?”
Of those responding to the poll question, 10 percent believe a living wage for a family of four is $25,000 to $30,000 a year. Five percent consider $30,001 to $35,000 a year to be a living wage. Fifteen percent believe $35,001 to $40,000 a year is the level. Nineteen percent say $40,001 to $45,000 is a living wage. Eighteen percent believe $45,001 to $50,000 a year meets the living wage standard. While 14 percent believe a $50,001 to $55,000 annual wage is a living wage. And, 20 percent believe $55,001 to $60,000 a year is a living wage.
Perception of what a living wage is to an individual may vary depending on what that individual is earning and surviving on at a given time.
These recent census figures are indicators that the United States has not recovered from the impact of the Great Recession.