New Census report shows anti-poverty measures help millions of Americans

The U.S. Census Bureau is out with a report today showing that anti-poverty policies like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are working for millions of Americans. The Current Population Survey (CPS) found that 15 percent of Americans and 10 percent of Minnesotans were living in poverty in 2011-2012, which means there had been no significant improvement since 2009-2010.

But the data also show that policy choices can make a difference in people’s lives. According to the Census Bureau, SNAP lifted 4 million Americans – including 1.7 million children – out of poverty in 2012.

This new information from the Census Bureau comes days before the U.S. House is expected to vote on a proposal to drastically cut SNAP for millions of Americans still struggling to recover from the Great Recession – eliminating basic food assistance for at least 41,000 Minnesotans.

The Census report should convince Congress that cutting SNAP is the wrong way to go during this slow economic recovery. SNAP helps families working for low wages or struggling to find work to keep food on the table.

SNAP benefits are modest, providing about $8 a day for a household and $4 for a person to purchase food. But the new data confirm that even this small amount makes a big difference in helping stabilize families and making sure children have access to adequate nutrition.

The 2012 data released today show that other anti-poverty measures are also effective at lifting people out of poverty, including:

  • 15.3 million Americans seniors through Social Security payments.
  • 1.7 million Americans through Unemployment Insurance benefits.
  • 2.9 million American children through the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.

The Census Bureau will release Minnesota-specific information on income, poverty and health insurance on Thursday, so stay tuned for our analysis then.

-Caitlin Biegler

About Clark Biegler

Clark Biegler is the Minnesota Budget Project’s policy analyst. She researches and writes about state tax and budget issues. Clark holds a Master of Public Policy degree from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. She interned at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute in Washington, DC, Third Way in Washington, DC, Lutheran Social Services, and the Alabama State Office of Primary Care and Rural Health.
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