RELEASE: Half in Ten Campaign Starts the Clock on Cutting Poverty in Half in Ten Years

Releases signature report, “Restoring Shared Prosperity: Strategies to Cut Poverty and Expand Economic Growth”

Washington, D.C. – Today the Half in Ten campaign released a landmark report contrasting the number of struggling families in today’s economy with comprehensive data on the challenges we face in creating enough decent-wage jobs, supplying sufficient affordable housing units, and other foundational supports to ensure pathways out of poverty for millions of Americans.

The report, “Restoring Shared Prosperity: Strategies to Cut Poverty and Expand Economic Growth,” establishes the baseline for Half in Ten’s goal of cutting poverty in half in 10 years, and starts the clock on meeting the target nationally and in every state across the country. The report also outlines a path for policymakers to reverse these troubling trends and rebuild the middle class.

The baseline incorporates a set of indicators that measure how well the nation is doing in creating good jobs, strengthening families, and promoting economic security. The report ranks states according to each of these indicators, and the accompanying website emphasizes the state’s bottom-ranking data to focus attention on areas for improvement.

It’s important to note that no state ranks in the bottom or top five in all indicators, which means that every state has some areas to improve in providing pathways out of poverty and greater opportunity for all.

A central new strategy outlined in the report is increasing the number of household earners and good jobs for single breadwinners rather than focusing solely on encouraging marriage to gain economic stability. The report includes brand-new analysis contrasting poverty rates in one-earner households and multiple-earner households, highlighting a unique vantage point by basing this comparison on earnings rather than on married versus single status.*

To be sure, marriage is an important route in modern American society. But it’s not the only route for low-income families to achieve a firm financial footing. Our analysis shows that a key indicator of economic well-being of American families is the number of breadwinners and/or a good job for single breadwinners. Recognizing and encouraging dual incomes in whatever form they exist significantly improves a family’s poverty status.

The report reveals that:

  • Only 4 percent of households with more than one earner are in poverty (income less than $22,000 a year for a family of four) as compared to 24 percent with a single earner.
  • Only 15 percent of multiple-earner families are low income (have earnings below $44,000 a year for a family of four), while 47 percent of single-earner families are in this category.

Similarly, the data reveal dramatic drops in single-mother family poverty (from 40.7 percent to 14 percent) would occur simply by ensuring that single moms have good and stable jobs. The report, therefore, not only tracks employment but also the accessibility of other supports that allow single parents access and maintain full-time, year-round employment such as safe and reliable child care, paid leave, and other forms of workplace flexibility.

Additionally, the report pairs familiar data on the unemployment crisis with comprehensive information on job quality. It tracks data on the number of workers without paid sick leave, retirement benefits, and family-supporting wages to give a more complete picture of the working poor and workers barely hanging on to the bottom rungs of the middle class.

Overall, the report connects information on the number of people struggling to move out of poverty with the levers to increase opportunity such as more good jobs, access to financial institutions to save for the future, and affordable housing to name a few. Going forward, the campaign will compare next year’s data to this year’s baseline, tracking our progress in restoring shared prosperity and rebuilding the middle class.

Read the report

Access the data

See state by state fact sheets

Read the top 10 findings

To access personal stories about programs mentioned in this report, visit, “The Road to Shared Prosperity Map: Personal Stories about Programs Building the American Dream.”

To talk to experts on the issue, please contact Laura Pereyra at lpereyra@americanprogressaction.org or at 202.203.8689.

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Half in Ten was launched in 2008 to urge local, state, and national leaders to set a national goal of cutting poverty in half in 10 years, and to build the political and public will to advance legislation and programs that will help us to reach it. More information on the campaign can be found at www.halfinten.org.

*For households, we examined the subfamily level, defined by the Current Population Survey data as “a couple, married or unmarried, with or without children, or a single parent with one or more own never-married children.”