Report finds spike in U.S. poverty levels
Whitney Jones, Religion News Service
September 17, 2010

Report finds spike in U.S. poverty levels

Report finds spike in U.S. poverty levels
Whitney Jones, Religion News Service
September 17, 2010

WASHINGTON — The number of

people in poverty in America increased to its highest recorded point last year,

and the poverty rate rose to its highest level since 1994, new statistics show.

The Census Bureau released

data Thursday (Sept. 16) that showed a significant annual increase in poverty,

rising 1.1 percentage points to 14.3 percent in 2009. A total of 43.6 million

live in poverty – the highest since recording began in 1959 — and up from 39.8

million in 2008.

As result of the ongoing

financial crisis, social service programs such as Catholic Charities USA are

faced with the challenge of increased needs from individuals and working

families, budget cuts and a decrease in individual donations.

Catholics Charities served

more than 9 million people in 2009, and reported a 10 percent increase in need

for nutrition, housing and financial services.

Larry Snyder, president and

CEO of Catholics Charities, said that while the statistics were staggering,

they did not come as a surprise to those who work with people in poverty on a

daily basis.

“These numbers are further

proof that as a nation it is time to re-examine our failing system of safety

nets,” said Snyder.

David Beckmann, president of

the anti-hunger group Bread for the World, echoed Snyder’s concern, calling “the

faithful to get off the couch and change the politics of hunger and poverty.”

While government leaders are

eager to support the rich and middle class, they are leaving the poor behind,

said Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches.

“Our political leaders’

calculated neglect of the poor while courting the votes of the comfortable

offends the Creator of the universe,” Kinnamon said. “Any measures taken should

not only stimulate the economy but benefit everyone, especially those living on

the economic margins.”