What was this White House stat claiming poverty is the lowest it has been for 50 years?

I’ve seen so many boasts from people citing the White House claims that poverty has fallen off a cliff.  The NYC Department of Homeless Services  notes that average daily homeless shelter for families with children has jumped c.60% in the last 5 years to 13,000 comprising 41,000 individuals. Total people in NYC seeking shelter is almost 60,000.

In the past 2 years NY Mayor Bill De Blasio’s FY2016 “Mayor’s Management Report” highlighted a 42% jump in applications for “Emergency Rent Assistance” from New York City families worried their housing might be lost. Over 82,000 people applied vs 58,000 several years ago. Reading this report in more detail some of this rise in those seeking shelter is attributed to domestic violence (DV). I recall similar statistics in Japan. The police in Japan had to make a new category of DV for divorced couples still living with each other because either party couldn’t afford to move out.

The statistics are truly disturbing. According to Eurostat there are 122 million Europeans at risk of poverty. 25% of the population. One-third of Greeks are already there.To put that in context Australia is around 14% and Japan at 16%. The US is reported around 15%. Poverty USA claims that the number of Americans in poverty has not changed for four consecutive years. Poverty USA writes:

“Poverty does not strike all demographics equally. For example, in 2014, 13% of men lived in poverty, and 16% of women lived in poverty. Along the same lines, the poverty rate for married couples in 2014 was only 6%–but the poverty rate for single-parent families with no wife present was up to 16%, and for single-parent families with no husband present 31%.”

I wrote a few months back that even the Dollar General and Dollar Tree discount stores were experiencing troubles. On the Dollar General earnings call the other month management said,

“And when we’re out in stores and we drop prices like we do, I can tell you, I’ve been out in stores in the middle of the aisle and heard customers come up to our store manager in tears and thanking them for being there and thanking them for the prices that we offer in a real convenient nature for her, where she can walk to the store, because she can’t afford anything else. When you hear that, that really brings home where this core customer is.”

Dollar General share price is down 25% in the last month while Dollar Tree is down 19%.

A recent ME Bank survey in Australia found only 46 per cent of households were able to save each month. Just 32 per cent could raise $3000 in an emergency and 50 per cent aren’t confident of meeting their obligations if unemployed for three months.

A recent Federal Reserve survey in the US found only 53 percent of respondents indicate that they could cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money. Thirty-one percent of respondents report going without some form of medical care in the past year because they could not afford it. So that is 47% who cannot raise $400 in an emergency.

60% of Americans get most of their income from social security. There are 30 million Americans who are receiving some form of disability related payment.

Seems to me poverty is more about the classification than the reality.

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