The U.S. poverty rate is about to reach levels not witnessed since the 1960s as more of America’s middle class watch jobs disappear and new opportunities close their doors. According to a recent Associated Press survey the weakened economy and a failing government safety net has erased almost all of the gains the United States has made since beginning its “war on poverty” campaign began in the 1960s.
The survey included dozens of economists, academics and think tanks who largely agreed that the poverty level will increase to 15.7% in 2012, up from 15.1% in 2010.
According to the research even a 0.1 percentage point increase would mean the highest poverty level since 1965.
Among the most troubling parts of the report was the fact that child poverty would increase higher than the 22% in reached in 2010. Researchers also believe poverty still stay above pre-recession levels of 12.5% for many years to come with peak levels upwards of 16% through at least 2014. Numbers are expected to remain high as unemployment benefits run out and the jobless rate exceeds 6%. Analysts also point out that jobs are now paying less while the price of consumer goods and services continue to rise.
The survey also found that underemployed and part-time work will continue to increase the poverty level over 15%, rising to new highs as workers take any job they can get to cover their bills and the loss of jobless benefits.
In the suburbs things are not looking promising as poverty will reach a record level of 11.8%.
For senior citizens (65 years and older), many who lost large portions of their retirement savings during the housing market crash the outlook is at least a little better thanks in large party to social security cash payments.
In what might be the most troubling statistic the “poorest poor” who make 50% or less of the poverty level will remain near a peak record of 6.7%.
With the middle class becoming poverty-stricken and the poor becoming the “poorest poor” the outlook for the future isn’t all that bright, at least not through 2014.