America is in a holding pattern when it comes to poverty and median income levels. There was no significant decrease in poverty nor did incomes get a big boost, according to new data.
And as a new U.S. Census Bureau report revealed, while real median household income and the poverty rate were not statistically different from the previous year, there are 46.5 million (or 15 percent) of people living at or below the poverty line. “This marked the second consecutive year that neither the official poverty rate nor the number of people in poverty were statistically different from the previous year’s estimates,” according to a Bureau press release.
The report, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012,” found that the real median incomes in 2012 for family households ($64,053) and non-family households ($30,880) were not very different from the levels in 2011. And changes in real median household income were not statistically significant for race and Hispanic-origin groups between 2011 and 2012.
If the numbers on poverty and income levels haven’t changed drastically, the changes in the situation for blacks seem strange.
“Black unemployment rose to 13 percent in August from 12.6 percent in July. Unemployment among black teens declined to 38.2 percent, down from 41.6 percent. This was the lowest level since March, however, black teen unemployment remains the highest of any group,” reports TheGrio.
“We’ve lost 700,000 public sector jobs since [President] Obama took office. This is a completely preventable and reversible catastrophe,” Heather McGhee, vice president for policy and outreach at Demos told TheGrio. This is due, she said, to the steep cuts and the gridlock in Washington. And she says she does not expect more encouraging jobs data until there is a commitment to create more public sector jobs, where blacks and Latinos are over-represented.
Of the 169,000 jobs that were created, the retail, health care and leisure and hospitality sectors saw the biggest increases. Many retail jobs, however, are low wage.
Mobility can play an important role in employment as well. African Americans tend to reside in more segregated communities that are located further away from the areas experiencing the highest jobs growth. Therefore, improving transportation and access to transportation is important, explained Margaret Simms, institute fellow and director of the Low Income Working Families Project at the Urban Institute. She said manufacturing jobs were a good source of high-wage jobs for workers without more than a high school education. But, these jobs are not growing in many parts of the country.
(Actually, there’s an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal this morning about the opportunities available in toilet manufacturing. The strength and skill needed for the job makes it a manufacturing area that the US can excel in.)
Education is also key. “We must ensure the next generation has the educational foundation to acquire job related skills, whether it is post-secondary or vocational training,” said Simms. In some not-so-good news, a report from the College Board shows that the SAT scores for the Class of 2013 indicates the next group of high school graduates aren’t prepared for college. The benchmark score is 1550 (out of 2400) and the average score this year was 1498, the same as last year. That benchmark indicates a 65 percent chance that students will achieve a B- grade point average their first year.