Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Burdens of Poverty Are Moving Up

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Burdens of Poverty Are Moving Up

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

The Census Bureau uncovered something that Bruce Ganger, executive director of Second Harvest North Florida, sees all the time.

More Americans are struggling to make it through the month without having to seek food help, or help to meet other needs that they once had no trouble providing for themselves.

Many tend to be people who once held positions in management and in other higher-paying occupations.

And the Census Bureau, in its quest to provide a more accurate picture of poverty as the nation struggles through its worse economic downturn since the Great Depression, found a staggering number of "near poor."

Around 51 million Americans fall into this category and that number is 76 percent higher than what the census counted two months ago.

These are the people who live in an economic limbo; they have incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line, and they have to struggle to avoid sliding below it.

DEFYING STEREOTYPES

Trudi J. Renwick, the Census Bureau's chief poverty statistician, told The New York Times that nearly 50 percent of them live in the suburbs. Nearly half are white, while 18 percent are black and 26 percent are Latinos.

Half also live in households headed by married couples. And 28 percent work.

Ganger isn't surprised.

"What you had was a situation where unemployment was shockingly high 12 percent and 10 percent," Ganger told me. "Now it's worked its way down to 9 percent.

"But you now have people who are re-entering the workforce, but they go back on the payroll at a level that was significantly less than it was before they don't make enough on a monthly level where they can connect all the dots."

For example, Ganger said, he's working with a guy who once earned a high salary in property management, but who lost his job when the foreclosure crisis hit. …

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