If you’ve been following this blog, then you know that I’ve been open about my decision to pull away from Western culture. Basing my life decisions on whether or not I will accumulate material wealth, status, and a following is the reason why there’s so much depression in our society. After browsing Instagram and seeing the plastic smiles from the Christmas holiday, I started researching some of the grassroots issues we tend to ignore. This led me to poverty in America.
According to the Census Bureau data by Stateline, poverty grew by 30% throughout the country between 2016 and 2018. The number of people making less than $25,750 annually rose across racial and geographic lines. In 2018, the poverty rate was at 11.8%, which means 38.1 million people lived in poverty. The stats for the year 2019 aren’t in yet.
Poverty USA advised that those who live under the Federal Government’s official poverty threshold are considered impoverished. This includes a family of four on an annual income of $25,700, someone making minimum wage and working multiple jobs, senior citizens on a fixed income, and wage earners who are suddenly out of work. Poverty also varies between demographics:
- Women make up 12.9%.
- Men make up 10.6%.
- Married couples in 2018 were 4.7%.
- Single-parent households without a wife/mother were 12.7%.
- Single-parent households without a husband/father were 24.9%.
- 11.9 million children (16.2%) lived in poverty in 2018; that’s 1 in every 6. And 2.5 million children experience homelessness in a year.
- The poverty rate for senior citizens was 14.1%.
- 5.3% of the population (17.3 million people) live in deep poverty, with incomes below 50% of the poverty threshold.
- 29.9% of the population (93.6 million people) live close to poverty.
In regards to ethnicity, the following was advised:
Native Americans: 25.4%
Black/African Americans: 20.8%
The poverty threshold does change depending on the size of the family.
- Family of Three: $19,985
- Family of Four: $25,701
- Family of Five: $30,459
- Family of Six: $34,533
- Family of Seven: $39,194
- Family of Eight: $43,602
- Family of Nine or more: $51,393
With this information, I became curious about the Christmas spending habits of those who may or may not meet the poverty threshold. Investopedia advised that since 2008, the amount of money American consumers have spent on holiday gifts has increased. The average American spends $700 on holiday gifts, totaling more than $465 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Industry experts expect that for the year 2019, Americans will spend $920 per person on holiday gifts, which will be an increase from $885 in 2018; totaling more than $1 trillion.
But the poverty rate in America is still rising.
How does a holiday season rooted in frivolous spending, materialism, vanity, and insanity get so much attention when millions are still suffering from poverty? Capitalism and greed, two of the founding principles of our nation. I’m only one person, so changing the entire system alone is wishful thinking. But raising awareness, volunteering, and giving back to those in need is something that we can all do to help.
Until Next Time…
Haury, A. C. (2019, November 8). Average Cost of an American Christmas. Retrieved December 29, 2019, from https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1112/average-cost-of-an-american-christmas.aspx.
Henderson, T. (2019, December 19). Poverty Grew in One-Third of Counties Despite Strong National Economy. Retrieved December 29, 2019, from https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2019/12/19/poverty-grew-in-one-third-of-counties-despite-strong-national-economy.
Perry, A. M. (2019, December 23). Poverty in America is rising. We need a plan to fight it. Retrieved December 29, 2019, from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2019/12/23/poverty-in-america-is-rising-we-need-a-plan-to-fight-it/.
Made in America Christmas: Are You In? (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2019, from https://abcnews.go.com/WN/mailform?id=14998335.
The Population of Poverty USA. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2019, from https://www.povertyusa.org/facts.