Year in Review: Economic Justice
Throughout 2011, the American economy has remained on shaky ground, and our nation’s most vulnerable populations have remained at increased risk. Economic turmoil in Europe—and a Congress that has done little to help the economy recover—have put an increased strain on our social safety net.
In our homes, schools, and offices, the situation is equally grim. Some 46.2 million people lived below the poverty line in 2010—the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has published such data—and the numbers are not expected to be any better once data is available to fully evaluate 2011. While much of this decline can be blamed on the recession and lagging recovery, the fact that average hourly earnings haven’t increased in 50 years (after adjusting for inflation), has been an anchor on working families wallets, dragging many towards poverty.
More and more, children across the nation are bearing more than their share of the economic downturn. Some 16.4 million children across America currently live in poverty, meaning, on average, one in five children today is poor. With poverty has come another pestilence: hunger. On average, one out of every two children will receive food stamp benefits at some point before their 18th birthday; 90 percent of African-American children will receive such benefits in the same time span. As highlighted in heartbreaking fashion by 60 Minutes, the number of homeless families with children living in shelters has increased
28 percent between 2007 and 2010.
As we ring in the New Year, and continue the task of rebuilding the American economy, we must all ensure that we do not leave the men, women, and children who most desperately need our help behind.