The United States Census Bureau announced Wednesday in its annual Families and Living Arrangements table package that just over 16 million (20%) US children now receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The SNAP program is more commonly known as "food stamps." The number of children on food stamps has nearly doubled since the Great Recession began in 2007 and almost 25% of US children are currently living below the poverty line.
According to a 2013 UNICEF report, the US child poverty rate (23.1%) is second only to Romania (23.6%). The poverty rate is defined by a household with an income below 50% of the national median income. Even Greece, which has been mired by horrendous economic conditions and austerity measures, is well above the US when it comes to the child poverty rate (15.3%). Deconstructing the child poverty rate offers an even more forbidding reality. Of the 14.7 million "poor children," just under 6.5 million are considered "extremely poor according to a new report on child poverty by the Children's Defense Fund.
The official poverty level refers to a family of four living at or below the level of $23,834. To put the shocking number into perspective (14.7 million), the number of poor children exceeds the population of 12 states combined (Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming. The number also exceeds the combined populations of Costa Rica and Sweden. The rate of children on food stamps has fallen from a post-recession high (25%) but a record 20% of Americans were receiving SNAP benefits at the end of 2013.
SNAP began in the mid-1990's and initially aimed to serve as a safety net for single adults without children. The program evolved over time and now includes married couples, single parents, and couples with children. The US has reached all time highs in regard to the number of adult food stamp participants and the amount of food stamps issued to working Americans just broke records. The United States economy clearly is not as healthy as some economists claim. It is great for the top 1%, but is not very good for the middle class and is terrible for families in the lower middle class. It should come as no surprise that the wealth divide in the United States has dramatically increased since the beginning of the Great Recession. In fact, many economists claim the US has witnessed the greatest transfer of wealth in US history, since 2007.
The top 1% of earners captured nearly all of the income gains in the US since the recession ended, officially, in June 2009. Consequently, the divide between rich and poor has never been greater in this country. Even globally, the top 1% own almost 50% of the entire world's wealth. The current wealth distribution does not bode well for this country. What will it take to reverse this horrible trend? #Child Poverty Ranks 1. Finland (3.6%) 2. Netherlands (5.9%) 3. Denmark (6.3%) 4. Cyprus (6.5%) 5. Iceland (6.5%) 6. Norway (6.6%) 7. Slovenia (7.2%) 8. Sweden (7.3%) 9. Austria (7.8%) 10. Ireland (8.5%) 11. Germany (9.4%) 12. Switzerland (9.4%) 13. Malta (9.5%) 14. France (9.5%) 15. Czech Republic (9.7%) 16. Hungary (10%) 17. United Kingdom (10%) 18. Belgium (10.3%) 19. Australia (10.9%) 20. New Zealand (11.7%) 21. Luxembourg (11.8%) 22. Estonia (11.9%) 23. Slovakia (13.2%) 24. Poland (13.9%) 25. Canada (14%) 26. Japan (14.9%) 27. Portugal (15.2%) 28. Greece (15.3%) 29. Italy (17%) 30. Lithuania (17.9%) 31. Spain (19.7%) 32. Latvia (20.5%) 33. Bulgaria (21.6%) 34. United States (23.1%) 35. Romania (23.6%) Read the entire Families and Living Arrangements Report by Clicking Here.