29 Uncomfortable Truths About Soaring Poverty In America

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

Did you know that the number of Americans on welfare is higher than the number of Americans that have full-time jobs?  Did you know that 1.2 million public school students in the U.S. are currently homeless?  Anyone that uses the term "economic recovery" to describe what is happening in the United States today is being deeply insulting to the nearly 150 million Americans that are considered to be either "poor" or "low income" at this point.  Yes, things are great in New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, but almost everywhere else economic conditions continue to steadily get worse. 

The gap between the wealthy and the poor is at a level that America has never seen before, and this is beginning to create a "Robin Hood mentality" that could cause a tremendous amount of social chaos in the years ahead.  Anger at the "haves" in America continues to rise at a very alarming pace, and the "have nots" are becoming increasingly desperate.  At some point all of this anger is going to boil over, and you won't want to be anywhere around major population centers when that happens. 

Despite unprecedented borrowing by the federal government in recent years, and despite unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, poverty in the United States keeps getting worse with each passing year. The following are 29 incredible facts which prove that poverty in America is absolutely exploding...

1. What can you say about a nation that has more people getting handouts from the federal government than working full-time?  According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people receiving means-tested welfare benefits is greater than the number of full-time workers in the United States.

2. New numbers have just been released, and they show that the number of public school students in this country that are homeless is at an all-time record high.  It is hard to believe, but right now 1.2 million students that attend public schools in America are homeless.  That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.

3. When I was growing up, it seemed like almost everyone was from a middle class home.  But now that has all changed.  One recent study discovered that nearly half of all public students in the United States come from low income homes.

4. How can anyone deny that we are a socialist nation when half the people are getting money from the federal government each month?  According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program.

5. Signs of increasing poverty are even showing up in the wealthiest areas of the nation.  According to the New York Post, New York subways are being "overrun with homeless".

6. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one out of every six Americans is now living in poverty.  The number of Americans living in poverty is now at a level not seen since the 1960s.

7. The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States is at an all-time record high.  The wealthy may not consider this to be much of a problem, but those at the other end of the spectrum are very aware of this.

8. The "working poor" is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population.  At this point, approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

9. According to numbers provided by Wal-Mart, more than half of their hourly workers make less than $25,000 a year.

10. A recent Businessweek article mentioned a study that discovered that 300 employees at one Wal-Mart in Wisconsin receive a combined total of nearly a million dollars a year in public assistance...

“A decent wage is their demand—a livable wage, of all things,” said Representative George Miller (D-Calif.). The problem with companies like Wal-Mart is their “unwillingness, not their inability, to pay that wage,” he said. “They hand off the difference to taxpayers.” Miller was referring to a congressional report (PDF) released in May that calculated how much Walmart workers rely on public assistance. The study found that the 300 employees at one Supercenter in Wisconsin required some $900,000 worth of public assistance a year.

11. The stock market may be doing great (for the moment), but incomes for average Americans continue to decline.  In fact, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

12. The quality of the jobs in America has been steadily dropping for years.  At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

13. According to a Gallup poll that was recently released, 20.0% of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year.  That is just under the record of 20.4% that was set back in November 2008.

14. Young adults are particularly feeling the sting of poverty these days.  American families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

15. As I wrote about a few weeks ago, one out of every five households in the United States is on food stamps.  Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.

16. The number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of Spain.

17. According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of "Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming."

18. We are told that we live in the "wealthiest nation" on the planet, and yet more than one out of every four children in the United States is enrolled in the food stamp program.

19. The average food stamp benefit breaks down to approximately $4 per person per day.

20. It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps before they reach the age of 18.

21. Today, approximately 17 million children in the United States are facing food insecurity.  In other words, that means that "one in four children in the country is living without consistent access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life."

22. It may be hard to believe, but approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are currently living in homes that are considered to be either "low income" or impoverished.

23. The number of children living on $2.00 a day or less in the United States has grown to 2.8 million.  That number has increased by 130 percent since 1996.

24. In Miami, 45 percent of all children are living in poverty.

25. In Cleveland, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty.

26. According to a recently released report, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

27. According to a Feeding America hunger study, more than 37 million Americans are now being served by food pantries and soup kitchens.

28. The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

29. It has been reported that 4 out of every 5 adults in the United States "struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives".

These poverty numbers keep getting worse year after year no matter what our politicians do.

So is there anyone out there that would still like to argue that we are in an "economic recovery"?

And as I mentioned above, the "have nots" are becoming increasingly angry at the "haves".  For example, just check out the following excerpt from a recent New York Post article...

The maniac who butchered a Brooklyn mom and her four young kids confessed that he did it because he was jealous of their way of life, a police source told The Post on Sunday.

The family had too much. Their income (and) lifestyle was better than his,” the source said.

The bloody suspect was caught holding the kitchen knife he used during the Saturday night rampage inside the Sunset Park apartment where he had been staying with the victims, the source added.

Sadly, this was not an isolated incident.  All over the western world, a "Robin Hood mentality" is growing.  This is something that I am so concerned about that I made it a big part of my new book.  At this point, even wealthy Hollywood-types such as actor Russell Brand are calling for a socialist-style "revolution" and a "massive redistribution of wealth".

Perhaps Brand does not understand that what he is calling for would mean redistributing most of his own wealth away from him.

When the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes, I fear that all of this anger and frustration that are growing among the poor will boil over in some very frightening ways.  I believe that we will see a huge spike in crime and that we will eventually see communities all over America looted and burning.

But I am not the only one that is thinking along these lines.  A new National Geographic Channel movie entitled "American Blackout" attempts to portray the social chaos that could erupt in the event of an extended national power failure...

American Blackout, National Geographic Channel’s two-hour, edge-of-your-seat movie event imagines the story of a national power failure in the United States caused by a cyberattack — told in real time, over 10 days, by those who kept filming on cameras and phones. You’ll learn what it means to be absolutely powerless.

You can view a clip of the film that was made available by NatGeo for the SHTFplan.com community right here.

What would you do if something like that happened to you?

How would you handle desperate, hungry people at your fence asking for food?

And what if those people were armed and were not "asking nicely" for your food?

Don't ignore what is happening in America right now.  It is setting the stage for some very chaotic times.

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HedgeAccordingly's picture

instead of cutting the BS welfare and other entitlements.. why hot tax corps like they tax individuals to an axtent.. offset this by allowing low interest loans to business which operate in US and employ inside USA. - 


booboo's picture

"instead of cutting the BS welfare and other entitlements"
See how subtle stupidity is introduced, welfare is now a entitlement.

insanelysane's picture

The old let's fix a problem by causing another problem.  I don't mind feeding these people but if they are taxing me at 20% which is 1/5 of my work week, they should be working on the crumbling infrastructure or something.  If you raise my taxes, you raise the number of hours per work you need to work for the good of the country.

Harry Dong's picture

Better yet, let's give them a job that pays 1960 min wage and we may see some betterment of our less fortunate. (Would that be 20 or 25/hr?)

mark mchugh's picture

Minimum wage in 1960 was $1.00, which was .715 ounces of silver, about $16 these days.

markmotive's picture

1 Uncomfortable f@cking truth:

Wage slavery and social indoctrination is keeping the poor just rich enough not to revolt.


AldousHuxley's picture

Feed the poor and they won't revolt. especially with nowadays with TV and internets for unlimited entertainment.




RSloane's picture

Adlous is absolutely right. Americans have the fattest poor population on the planet. They have phones, they have internet access, they have cars, and they can sell their EBT cards on Craig's List to spend money on other entertainment including drugs. The US society would have to be already in chaos before those entitlements stopped flowing from the gov't to the poor because they know the last thing the US wants to see is the FSA unfed and in the streets.

economics9698's picture

"Despite unprecedented borrowing by the federal government in recent years, and despite unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, poverty in the United States keeps getting worse with each passing year."

Printing and debt go hand in hand with wealth inequality.  Those that get the money are able to outbid the rest for goods and services.  Wall Street and the federal government. 


The way to combat poverty is to have real money, gold. 

MachoMan's picture

Having a sound currency is part of it...  but certainly not all.

The real issue here is incentive.  While the social safety net exists to ensure there is not a revolt or material change in the status quo, slaves are useless to master if they don't work the fields.  Many of those on government assistance do not work at all...  and the cost to keep these folks up in the lifestyle they've been accustomed is starting to get too much for master.

MarsInScorpio's picture

The real problem with taxes is that the statist corps and uber-rich aren't paying any.

Tax the .06% with 40% of the assets @ 40% of their income - no exemptions - they can afford to live on tens of millions a year net after taxes.


RabbitChow's picture

yes, its all bread and circuses.

acetinker's picture

So, you're not Hugh Fitzpatrick or Patrick Fitz-  Never mind. My own heritage is that of a rebellious Scot. Gotta say though, that many are not worth a dollar an hour today, much less in 1960 dollars.

Harry Dong's picture

And when silver was $50? It'll be back there soon..and then some...

Not that it matters, I only could save my nickels when my dory got knocked down.

Sidenote. do NOT use Velcro anywhere near the mainsheet!

anti-republocrat's picture

In other words, Harry dong was not very far off when he asked for $20/hr.

ronaldawg's picture

Fuck moochers - I don't want to pay for any of it.

Its_the_economy_stupid's picture

ok, let's all pretend that poverty doesn't exist. problem solved.

NEOSERF's picture

The classic let's fix a problem by causing another is to start a war...amazing how unemployment goes down, patriotism goes up, Congress works together, etc....

dizzyfingers's picture

booboo: welfare was called "entitlement" since Johnson by those who got it. Receivers: "I'm entitled!" Government agents: "They're entitled."

medium giraffe's picture

"I am so concerned about that I made it a big part of my new book."


Shameless plug noted.  Thanks for that.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

 and a truly timeless quote in the vein, of "this too shall pass."

"I am so concerned about that I made it a big part of my new book."

I'll have to use that line the next time anyone tries to guilt me about anything.

Carl Popper's picture

Chronic and massive capital misallocations and global labor arbitrage are a double whammy on the american work force spoiled by the Exhorbitant Privilege of owning a fiat reserve currency and a post war manufacturing monopoly during the greatest 50 year credit boom the world has ever seen.

This is reality. The last 50 years was a mirage.

Harry Dong's picture

Are you saying the work force has been spoiled? OK, if you mean 1970 unions, but I seem to remember some hard working blue color folks in my family. The men they worked for are billionaires now so I think they worked hard for the massa class.


Carl Popper's picture

They have worked hard no doubt, but now they compete with workers throughout the rest of the world in an economy that is nominally contractionary.

We were all sheltered from reality including me

anti-republocrat's picture

What you and others here seem not to understand is that workers throughout the rest of the world are subjects of authoritarian regimes that run death squads that regularly assassinate advocates for workers and the poor.

AldousHuxley's picture

as america becomes poorer, US will  become more like the rest of the world....one dominating political party, super rich in bed with the government, mass worker slaves, expensive everything



RSloane's picture

Our Dear Leader recently stated that [the US] "ain't no banana republic". Comforting words to some, I suppose,  flying in the face of reality.

Seer's picture

It's about POWER.

And when there are contractionary forces in play POWER lashes out/back.

We can point fingers at behaviors but doing so clouds us from seeing what's really going on.  The struggle for resources is only increasing as we deplete nature's capital.  Even IF there were no such things as "authoritarian regimes" we'd be smacking the fuck out of one another over resources.

Food, Shelter and Water.  There are over 7 BILLION of us.  On your mark, get ready...

Disclaimer: I do NOT approve of "authoritarian regimes;" I also do NOT approve of spending a lot of energy on/over low-probability events/outcomes.

Fake_nation's picture

And all these peniless young people could be working in the real world to take us out of this depression. Instead they are all alone, praying the pedagogy of isolation will deliver them an economic future...


Seer's picture

"working in the real world"

Really?  Is this the one where everything is crashing because everyone is broke and the "consumer economy" is contracting and unable to hire?

Yes, as a farmer I agree that young people WILL end up WORKING in THE REAL WORLD.  However, my notion of what "real world" means is likely MUCH different than yours: my fundamentals are firmly grounded in the physical- Food, Shelter and Water.

BTW - There's 750 MILLION people in India who live on $0.50/day.  This after the big BRIC miracle.  This in the face of mega capital from the "real world" flowing into there.  Meanwhile our populations are increasing and our resources (natural capital) are depleting.

NoDebt's picture

When education was lost (pretty much completely) to liberal/statist ideas encouraging dependency, everything else was lost along with it.  We're just now seeing the results of that.

stacking12321's picture

liberal/statist, eh?

you seem to have a very short term, or perhaps selective memory, as to who controlled the executive 2000-2008, and exactly how statist they were.

if you insist on believing in team red or team blue, you are hopelessly lost.

the only difference is whether the welfare is going to individuals, or to corporations.

neither one is acceptable.


Seer's picture

I suppose it would provide some real context/meaning if he/she had given some things that he/she supports rather than just tossing out buzz-words (in order to garner green arrows).

NoDebt's picture

Well, if you had paid any attention to my MANY previous posts on similar subject you would know that I agree with you, including the 2000-2008 crew and prior to that.  This has been developing for a LONG time.  Large, politically connected corporations and individuals are sucking at the government teat on the high end just as much as the "poor" are sucking on it from underneath.

An example of high-end welfare?  Fine.  OK, how about the carried-interest exemption?  An indefensible government hand-out to the unltra-wealthy for taking much lower capital gains tax rates on their earned income, though they never had their own capital at risk.  A favorite of the 2-and-20 crowd.

The only one in this conversation who had jumped it into the red-vs-blue dead end, is you.  You saw what you wanted to see, not what was actually there on the screen in front of you.  You'll make an excellent drone in the new world order.  Your thinking is already primed for it.

Perhaps in the future you should do some research or ask a few questions before confusing a short statement with shallow thinking.

Urban Redneck's picture

Americans (generally) are so stupid that they don't know the meaning of the world "liberal" despite using it incessantly.

American "liberals", specifically, are so stupid that they can't wrap their narrow and predisposed minds around the difference between racism and xenophobia.

And the notion that one party favors handouts to the little guy while the other one favors handouts to the big guy is total bullshit and American "liberal" marketing spiel.

Nixon and Bush did as much to enslave the poor as Johnson did with the devil's dollar candy for the poor, they just failed to lock up the nigger vote for 200 years because they have a republitarted marketing department. Meanwhile Obama has funneled more taxpayer cash to deep pocketed business interests than did Bush redux. The only shovel-ready project of the whole stimulus debacle was Barry's backers backing up their Brinks trucks and shoveling the debt serfs' indentures into them. There are thousands of contemporary examples of the Team Rich Guy trying to buy the masses's votes with others' money and Team Poor Guy buggering poor guys so they can line their masters' pockets while extolling the virtue and social benefits of peasant rape at their next snob soiree.

Both of these parties are a terminal cancer upon the American people, who unfortunately don't know shit about healthcare, much less the actions required to even stand a chance of beating this cancer before it kills them.

When the Enlightened, burdened by habits of Heathenism, engage in the construction of a neo-Heathenism, the debate is not advanced, progress is not achieved, and consensus- even within the confines of the congregation, is not conjured. Proselytizing to the Heathen of one's own or former community is a far more productive use of such efforts.

The naivety of those who hold up the founding charters of the United States as the deus ex machina of a conclave is surpassed only by the naivety of those whose disdain for the very same documents derives from the very same misguided notion, ableit with nomenclature more compatible to the ideology.

The founding charters represent hard-won consensus amongst a vast diversity of ideologies, even if not all-inclusive in a contemporary context. The words themselves are the single largest and most complex plagiarism orchestrated in recorded history. The alpha-males of the alpha-male delegates came armed with their own and sometimes multiple drafts of entire constitutions to debate the finer and lesser points of, while the less aggressive arrived with the various charters of their own colonies and States. All of these documents were the Enlightened synthesis of both the philosophical treatises available at the time as well as the most contemporary empirical evidence available. A congenial congregation of old world salon society shooting the shit only to arrive to intellectual indecision or be saved in the final act by a deus ex machina, these conventions were not.

The modern Enlightenment is sorely deficient in effective synthesis and distillation of the available body of thought and research. Where is Martin Luther hanging out his 95 theses on the world wide web for all to see? Who is actually organizing the merchant classes and the peasant classes to resist the nobility and orthodoxy, as opposed to their fellow subjects? Where are the bridges that actually lead somewhere being built?

tempore quaeque suo qui facit, ille sapit

Putting the paid trolls and ideological shills in their proper place is great fun, but there is also serious work to be done, and miles to go before we can all sleep.

TheFreeLance's picture

I spent a couple years growing up on Food Stamps. A widowed then divorced single mom working two and three jobs just wasn't bringing in enough to support two kids. It was a rare and embarassing thing to need such support, but any just civil society finds a way to provide that sort of emergency safety net.

Now it is just a way of life. Or rather, a way of government. It is easier, less risky, and more profitable for the 1% to throw crumbs than to have an actual free-market economy than rewards competence rather than connections.

sessinpo's picture

A true free market society may not have food stamps. That is hard for many to swallow because it means that some won't make in society in a truly free market society - sink or swim.

Think if there were no 1 percenters. There would still be those less fortunate and those that would not make it. Then who would you blame and what would be the excuse then?

ronaldawg's picture

Blame or excuse for what?  There is christian charity - that won't let these people starve - what happened before the NEW DEAL?  Did everyone in poverty die?  No communities came together without government.  We need more of that - and LESS government.

Harry Dong's picture

'xactly. Lets cut the balls off the beast and I would gladly compete with the low hanging fruits we call the .1%  no need for govt help then except to get out of the way.

...and I'm bringing my homies with me. No one is left behind. O' ha nah.

Caviar Emptor's picture

Yes many died in poverty. Every year impoverished people died of diseases of the poor: Tuberculosis, typhoid, cholera, meningitis. Even in the 1960s, poor kids suffered from bowed leg bones(rickets) for lack of simple vitamin D in their diet. None of that ever happened on Fifth Avenue. Most of the history you read is Glossy History, biased and focused on the wealthy, the famous, the powerful.

Zero Point's picture

That's an excellent point ronaldawg. Perhaps socialistic practices are even to blame for a diminished feeling of social resposibility among people, as they now understand that "the government will help".

There is a role for government, but it's a LOT smaller than most people can accept right now.

Perhaps due to the way they have been coddled by nanny government.

Both in receiving hand outs, and in accepting that people in genuine need aren't their problem (they most certainly are).

stacking12321's picture

i can't agree with the statement that there is a role for government.

the only role for government, is in the dustbin of history, to remind us of the folly of our past.

i do not accept government, i do not accept the demands of any other man or group of men over me, no matter how many badges or guns or documents they may present.

i do not consent to being governed.

i am a free sovereign man, i will live my own life and make my own choices.

Zero Point's picture

I bet if we sat over a beer and discussed what I mean by "government", we'd probably mostly agree.

Zero Point's picture

Anyone who doesn't like that response should keep in mind, that me and my friends are armed.

In a post civilisation scenario, we'll be viewing "free men" with extreme suspicion.

And I DO mean extreme.

You could call that an armed gang, or government I guess. I could give a fuck which.

Seer's picture

There's 7 billion people on the planet, with a mere 300 million living in the "richest" country.  India has 2 1/2 times as many people living off of $0.50/day as the entire US population.

"No communities came together without government."

I think you meant it as:

"No, communities came together without government."

And yes, there is plenty of historical evidence to support this.  Things turn for the worse when people try and create ever bigger groups: if everyone was a Christian (no one left to "convert") I would figure that there'd be competition between all the various groups, and that this might very well lead to increased controls and forced coersion.

"Poverty" is a term.  I dislike it because it's used to promote the antithesis- excess.  And it further disparages the notion of sustainability, as "sustainability" really means subsistence (neither too little or too much), and if one is subsisting then one "has enough" (and is not dying).  THE aim of this metric of "poverty" is, I believe, to quantify the capacity to withstand setbacks.  The context, however, is mostly made against the dominant cultures and their status quo, which is oblivious to its own precariousness (though the light is starting to penetrate the cracks).

7+ billion on this planet.  As Peter Kropotkin suggested in his book Mutual Aid, humans tend to be more cooperative than competitive, otherwise, as he said, we wouldn't likely have amassed the numbers that we had (in his time it was 2 billion I think).  I believe this true, but only when there are available resources; when resources diminish then the more natural order of "the strongest survive" can only take hold.

I'd offer that "LESS government" isn't so much a prescription as it is a logical outcome of diminishing resources, less excess.  Believe me, and I'm NOT a supporter of any government, when this comes to pass it won't be any paradise: it'll just BE...

Uncle Remus's picture

How about just "charity". It's just good karma. There's a reason for freedom of religion in the constitution and charity is implicit in that. So that the government doesn't. Now, we have a government endorsed religion - Free Shit Army - which, BTW, includes Wall Street.

Urban Redneck's picture

If you want to sell that ideology beyond the limited confines of a Christian community perhaps you should package it within a more tolerant framework- such as (American) anti-Federalism, Confederationism, or even (true) Federal Republicanism.

Let the Sodomites collect their charity from the almighty Church of State in Sodom, and let the children of Abraham collect their charity from their fellow congregation members in their own churches.

That methodology is at least consistent with the broadly accepted Human Right of Self-Determination. Unless, of course, your unstated goal is the imposition of Sharia under a different name.