WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Census Bureau released annual poverty figures today, revealing that 15 percent of Americans—including one in five children—lived in poverty in 2011.
"With poverty holding at such a high rate, the importance of federal safety net programs is clear," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "The figures could have been significantly worse if it were not for federal programs helping to keep more Americans from falling into poverty."
At 46.2 million, the number of people living in poverty in 2011 increased for the fourth consecutive year, though the percent change in poverty data was not statistically significant from 2010. This information follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Sept. 5 announcement that 14.9 percent of American households—including 16.7 million children—suffered from food insecurity in 2011.
The official poverty numbers do not account for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), or the Child Tax Credit (CTC). If the data accounted for SNAP, it would show 3.9 million fewer people in poverty, including 1.7 million children. If it accounted for the EITC, the number of people in poverty would fall by 5.7 million people, including 3.1 million children.
"Federally funded programs play a tremendous role in reducing poverty and helping to keep hunger at bay, but the official data often excludes their impacts," added Beckmann. "As Congress works to reduce the deficit, we urge members to not cut these programs, as it would do more harm than good as our economy continues to rebound."
This data comes the same day Circle of Protection leaders plan to debut exclusive videos featuring President Barack Obama's and Governor Mitt Romney's positions on hunger and poverty. At a press conference today, members of the Circle of Protection discussed the new videos by both presidential candidates.
For more than a year, leaders of various Christian denominations and agencies have come together to advocate for a "Circle of Protection" around funding for programs that are vital to vulnerable people in the United States and around the world. The Circle of Protection is composed of more than 65 heads of denominations, relief and development agencies, and other Christian organizations. The videos can be viewed at www.circleofprotection.us/elections.
Bread for the World (www.bread.org) is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.
SOURCE Bread for the World