Contact: Tracy Munford
(212) 614-5538 (office)
(646) 483-6804 (cell)
With the publication of the Census Bureau report yesterday that poverty in America has reached a 15-year high, we begin to see the grim reality of the recent recession. And although the recession is officially ended, the hardships continue in a “jobless recovery.” We are seeing a “new poor,” previously middle class or working class people who had jobs and were able to make ends meet. Many have been jobless for so long that they are queuing up for public welfare benefits. With joblessness comes the loss of health care benefits; there are now over 50 million Americans without health insurance. The numbers of people living on food stamps has never been higher. An entire generation of Americans is facing the possibility that they will be either permanently jobless or part time piece workers.
We are wasting lives, and we cannot afford to do so. Many communities - both urban and rural - now mirror a third world country, with adults sitting around with no jobs and no future for them or their families. In New York City, 67 percent of unemployed low-income adults have been jobless for at least a year; half of those have been out of work for three years or more. How do we expect people to survive in this situation?
One in five children in America is growing up in poverty, an underclass that threatens to wreak havoc on our economy and society as well as America’s future ability to compete in the global economy. It is up to our leaders, both in government and the private sector, to move away from old habits and patterns of thought and respond to this national crisis. Unless we change our priorities, we will be creating generations mired in chronic poverty. The eventual result will be the economic downgrading of America to second class status.