Almost 38 million Americans living in poverty
According to the latest report from the United States Census Bureau, 37.9 million Americans live in poverty, accounting for 11.6% of the total population, even as the US ranks first as the richest nation in the world in terms of GDP.
“Poverty and economic insecurity are widely common,” Shailly Gupta Barnes, policy director at the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice told CNBC.
The number reported by the Census Bureau is based on the official poverty measure, which is virtually unchanged since the mid-1960s.
Grace Bonilla, president of United Way of New York City, said the official poverty measure doesn’t take important indicators into consideration, such as family composition or the cost of child care.
The Census Bureau developed the Supplemental Poverty Measure in 2011 as an improvement over the existing measure. It incorporates the cost of basic needs like food, clothing, as well as geographical differences and household size.
But Bonilla says that is not enough. “It’s a step in the right direction but it falls so short of actually giving us an accurate count of poverty in the United States,” she said.