Washington, D.C. — Today, in response to new Census Bureau data for 2011 that reveal an unchanged rate of poverty and declining middle class incomes, Half in Ten, the campaign to cut poverty in half in 10 years, urged Congress and the Obama administration to take immediate action. Reacting to the data showing that the rate of Americans in poverty held steady at 15 percent, median incomes declined by 1.5 percent, and 1.4 million people gained health care coverage, Half in Ten’s leadership issued the following statements.
Melissa Boteach, Director of the Half in Ten Campaign:
When poverty is holding steady, and incomes are falling even as the economy is recovering, it is a sign that economic gains are concentrating at the top, leaving working families behind. This data should be a wake-up call to policymakers that rather than budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, we need a focus on good jobs that bring more families into the middle class.
Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, a Half in Ten partner:
The findings are clear: More work and unemployment benefits have helped keep poverty from rising, which is good news. But 46 million people in poverty and more than one in five children poor remains unacceptably high. We need to keep unemployment benefits in place while we build on these hopeful signs of progress.
Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a Half in Ten partner:
Policy matters. The Affordable Care Act helped more families gain health coverage. Tax credits for working families and nutrition assistance kept millions out of poverty when counted as income. And as policymakers make key budget decisions in the coming weeks, it is critical they understand that these policies make a big difference in creating economic security and opportunity.
Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:
Economic security is the civil rights issue of our time. By making policy choices that bring millions of our neighbors off the economic margins and ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share, we can grow our economy and cut poverty as we reduce our long-term deficits. It’s about choices.
To speak with Half in Ten experts, please contact Madeline Meth at gro.noitcassergorpnacirema@htemm.
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.