On January 7, 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that nearly one third (31.6%) of Americans lived in poverty for at least two months between 2009 and 2011. Of the 37.6 million people who were in poverty at the beginning of 2009, 35.4% of them were no longer in poverty by 2011. But that’s not as great as it initially sounds. Almost half of them still lived at or below 150% of the poverty line. That translates for a family of four living at or below $35,250. About 44% of poverty spells ended within four months while more than 15% lasted more than two years. The average was about half a year. For more information go to https://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p70-137.pdf (web search 1.13.14)
There is a myth that people who live in poverty are there for a long time. The reality is that many families live through times of poverty. Those who are able to emerge often have educational and employment skills, social networks that can help, adequate medical resources, access to transportation, and other assets that people who live in poverty long term may not have. No one chooses to live in poverty. Those who are able to move up economically, even incrementally, have social capital that works in their favor.
The challenge is: How to improve the odds so that everyone who wants to emerge from poverty is able to do so.