In the past, we have known that poverty existed, and the fact that about 49 million people, one out of six in this country, are in that sad state, a large percentage of them being children.
But now the Census Bureau, through gathering of new data, has come up with a new category, the “near poor”.
This category is approximately 51 million people, making for a total of about 100 million people, one out of THREE, who are either in poverty or in “near poverty”!
Of course, the “near poor” are better off than those defined as “poor”, in the sense that they work and own a car, but they own a car with a lot of mileage, do not make enough to have a sense of “getting ahead”, and often do not have health care coverage, which means if they get sick or have an accident, it sets them back with heavy bills that can push them over the line into poverty.
There is no room for error among this group, as they teeter on the verge of bankruptcy from unexpected bills that may crop up, and they are unable to have much hope about the future.
One third of the “near poor” are elderly, and 39 percent are children. The “American Dream” is not coming through for these people at both ends of the age spectrum! The group of 51 million people is just “scraping by”, and there is a sense of hopelessness.
If one has an income under $50,000 in major metropolitan areas, he or she fits into this group if part of a family of four, and they have suffered from a decade of flat wages, as well as the economic collapse of the Great Recession. The fact that many live in the suburbs is misleading, as we are witnessing the growing poverty of many suburban communities, and the foreclosures on many homes, decimating what were once middle class neighborhoods.
As the saying goes, there is no “wiggle room” for this category of “near poor”, as they struggle every day to stay “above water”, with the danger of “drowning”, falling into poverty.