Poverty in America (Focus on Missouri and Africa American race)
Poverty in America
One qualifies to be called poor or living in poverty when the same individual is having a lack in the required and socially acceptable amount of material possession and money. Poverty can also be described as “having a significant low income as compared to the other members of the society.” In the United States of America, poverty among individuals is assessed and determine using the federal standards in the poverty threshold. The states in their capacities also have developed poverty guidelines to help evaluate and determine the fraction of their population that live in poverty. The adjustments in the poverty threshold come as a result of inflation due to the consumer price index. It is, however, noted that the levels of poverty in rural areas are higher than the poverty levels registered in the cities and the other metropolitan areas (Cellini, Stephanie, Signe-Mary & Caroline, 578).
The federal poverty threshold is 23,624 for a family with two children. It, therefore, goes that any child living in a family whose income is below the federal poverty line is termed as poor. Missouri has a population composed of 718,838 families with the population of 1,367,801 children. The demographic statistics estimates that 22% of the children which is an equivalent of 300,065 individuals live in poverty. On employment, 27% of the children in living in poverty have at least one parent on full employment in a year as opposed to the other 85% of the children in the non-poor families. On the other hand, 30% of the children in the poor households are raised with unemployed parents as opposed to the 3% that is approximate of 30,781 individuals who are children living in the non-poor families (Baker, 1168).
The poverty rate among the African Americans,” on the other hand, “has increased from the year 2005. The statistics by the “American Community Census Bureau Survey shows that the level of poverty among the Americans of African origin has increased from twenty-five percent in 2005 to twenty-eight percent as recorded in the survey of 2012.” Single parent families, for example, the families headed by the single mothers with children under the age of 18 have registered the highest poverty rates. Poverty levels among the black Americans reached its lowest in the year 2000 recording a rate of 38.6% and 21.2%. It has, however, been noticed, in the recent past that the rate has reversed and has increased in the recent past. All the black families have registered an increase of 25.7% while the households headed by the single mothers has reached 41.2%. Though this being true, the overall poverty of the African Americans, as the history of the nation suggests, has dropped (Well & Jeffrey, 83).
The Scope of Poverty in the US, MO, and KC
As a nation, the United States has a poverty rate of 14.8% as recorded in the year 2014. A population of approximately 46.7 million individuals lived in poverty. It is, however, important to note that “poverty does not hit the different segments of the demographics equally.” For instance, the fraction of the population represented by men in the United States hit by poverty was approximately 13%. The population of the women hit by poverty in the same year, 2014, was 16%. Among the married couples, the poverty registered was recorded to be 6% and those of single-parent families headed by the mother was 16%, and those led by the father was 31%. There was, however, no significant change in the data obtained in the year 2014 as compared to the data recorded in the past four years. The registered change was as a result of the programs that the federal government employed to reduce and assist the poor people in the society. One of the programs was food support to the families of poor background (Pressman, 80).
In Missouri, the overall poverty rate stands at 15.5% and those who fall into the extreme poverty represent 6.9% of the entire population. The assets owned by individuals will always determine whether to group such individuals as poor or wealthy. In Missouri, “the average asset poverty rate is at 21.6% while the average debt owed by the college graduates stands at 23,030 dollars.” Literacy levels, on the other hand, also provide a useful insight into the matters of poverty in any given place. The record shows that 86.9% of the population in Missouri has attained the high school degree, and 27.0% has a college degree. The number of teens aged 16-19 in all the people of Missouri out of school, in the recent years, has increased. “With the levels of poverty, the parents are not capable of supporting their children in school thereby leading to their drop out of school.” Approximately 9% of the entire teen’s population represent the individuals not in school yet at the same time not working. The total number of households in Missouri is estimated to 2,354,104 with 31% renters. About 321,596 households spend more than 30% of their earnings on housing. The homeless individuals in the population are 10,237, and the home foreclosure rate is at 1.08% (Cellini, Stephanie, Signe-Mary & Caroline, 600).
Child poverty rate in Kansas City is at 19% while the seniors’ poverty rate is at 11%. About 14.9% of women in Kansas City live in poverty. In the context of the families, 35% of the single parents with their children live below the poverty line. “The overall poverty rate in Kansas City stands at 13.6% while those that live in extreme poverty represent 5.9% of the entire population.” The minimum wage recorded is 7.25 dollars and the jobs paying low salaries in the city is approximated to be 28.2%. The unemployment in the city is at a rate of 4.7%, and the individuals with no insurance cover are 13% of the entire population. Individuals in the city also have limited access to assets. Assets owning as a percentage of the entire population stands at 22.9%, and the average college graduate debt is at 23,677 dollars. About education, 89.2% of the population has attained the high school education, and 31.1% represent the individuals who have graduated with a four college degree. The rate at which individuals graduate from high school stands at the 84.5% while, at the same time, teens out of school are approximately 6% of the entire population. According to CAS, the total number of households in Kansas City is 1,110,440 of which 32% are those in rental setting (Ranjith, & Anil, 122).
Factors Contributing To Poverty
Several factors in the society influence the level and rate of poverty within a given geographic location. For instance, unemployment is a factor that leads to poverty. The lack of enough jobs that pay proper or adequate wages to the population is one of the key contributing factors to poverty. The existing jobs will pay wages to the employees but the entire salary earned cannot even meet the basic requirement of the individual or the family. “In addition to the lack of ionizing jobs, the tax systems are also not favorable to the poor thereby infringing on their minimal wages.” The income gap between the rich and the poor is also widening. It is, however, believed that the gap herein is as a result of unfair political strategies that only favor the wealthy at the expense of the poor. The strong need to assist the rich to remain rich while the poor, with no access to the people in power will always languish in poverty. As the gap widens, poverty within the same geographic location also increases (Berliner, 205).
Conversely, the cost of medical care also has a contribution to the poverty levels experienced in the society. The high cost of the medical care offered to the citizens is also contributing to the levels of poverty experienced. People always get sick, and whenever that happens, they seek appropriate medication. The hard truth is that these services always come at a cost that the poor cannot bear. The lack of reasonable child care within the country also accelerates the problem of poverty. People with no abilities to access the healthcare insurance will, however, be at more risk in their jobs as opposed to the individuals with such medical cover. In rare cases do the employers provide medical care to their employees and always affect the overall living conditions of the same employees. “Increased housing prices and the cost of living also lead to the poverty levels recorded in the society. Developments in a given place come with added job opportunities.” Though this being true, it is also important to note that the rising growth registered also come with the increase in the housing prices thereby raising the cost of living. It, therefore, means that the poor will continue spending more of their meager income on housing and thus remaining at their poverty levels (Pressman, 82).
Additionally, literacy levels within the community have an impact on the levels of poverty. As recorded in the previous discussions, it is true to say that a larger portion of the population in America still do not have access to better and quality education. It is a known phenomenon that with high illiteracy levels or ignorance, come high rates of poverty. As opposed to the most affluent communities, “local, state, and federal funding of education is always viewed as inappropriate and a means of siphoning funds that would have been beneficial on other projects.” Increased economic globalization is another aspect that a great impact on the United States workers. Dependency is another aspect of the society that results in increased poverty levels in the community. People on the verge of poverty always rely on the reliefs and aids offered the local, state, or federal government. Overreliance on such aids leads to laxities on the individuals supported. They will often wait for the assistance and do nothing of significance to help them get out of poverty. It, therefore, means that with the increase in the number of reliefs and aids offered to the needy individuals, comes increased poverty rates. Greed that comes through corruption, where funds that could have helped manage other projects, lands in one’s pocket also accelerates the rates of poverty (Well & Jeffrey, 94).
Remedies and Solutions for Poverty
There is a possibility of ending poverty when the right procedures are followed and projects implemented. The first step in alleviating poverty is through job creation. Creating more employment opportunities would mean that more people would join the workforce. It is not only creating the jobs that are important but also improving the working conditions. It would mean that the employers increase the wages or salaries of the employees to meet the present living conditions. It would also mean that the work hours offered the employees are also favorable. “The increase in the job outlets and the improved working conditions always reduces the gap existing between the poor and the rich in the society.” Investing in high quality and affordable childcare and early education is also another ingredient in poverty reduction. The programs are necessary for the process of poverty alleviation in the society since the child under good health will learn and gain much in class as opposed to the one in diseases (Boyd et al., 27).
Equally, increasing pay equity among men and women will help reduce the gap that exist between the poverty among men and women. It is evident that “men are better paid than women in most of the job outlets available.” It is also important to increase the earned-income tax credit for childless workers. The project would be beneficial in assisting the other Americans who live in abject poverty. Reforming the justice system is very influential in reducing the rates of poverty in the society. Being that more people are locked up, it would be better if the system is flexible enough to allow re-entry into the community to increase the workforce of the country thereby increasing the economic growth of the nation. Expanding the Medicaid program is also an excellent platform that will assist in the reduction of the number of individuals that live in poverty (Fording & Joseph, 1173).
In summary, it is true to say that a greater portion of the population of the United States still lives in abject poverty. Poverty is defined as the lack of the required and the socially acceptable amounts of possessions and money. Children who are considered to be poor are those that are being raised by parents who are unable to meet their basic needs. The poverty rate in the country still stands at 14.8% of the entire population. Focusing on Missouri, we find that the people of this region that is living in poverty is a representative of 15.5% of her entire population. Kansas City, on the other hand, has a poverty rate of 13.6% of her entire population.
Several factors, however, contribute to the existence and the levels of poverty registered in the society. These factors of concern include unemployment, dependency, high-cost Medicare programs, rising living conditions, and the literacy levels among the individuals within the population. It is also important to counter the effects of poverty and to do so, several factors come into play. These factors include creating job opportunities, improving wages, and working conditions. Investing in affordable childcare programs as well as early education are also important in the process of alleviating poverty in the society. It is important to note that improving pay and providing fair tax systems reduces the rates of poverty in the society.
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Pressman, Steven. “Robert Heilbroner and the Growing Concern with Poverty in the US.” Forum for Social Economics 37.2 (2008): 77-83. ProQuest. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
Ranjith, Sri, and Anil Rupasingha. “Social and Cultural Determinants of Child Poverty in the United States.” Journal of Economic Issues 46.1 (2012): 119-141. ProQuest. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
Well, Aaron J., and Jeffrey M. Timberlake. “Racial And Ethnic Trends In The Suburbanization Of Poverty In U.S. Metropolitan Areas, 1980-2010.” Journal Of Urban Affairs 36.1 (2014): 79-98. Academic Search Elite. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.