WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is encouraged to see the reduction in U.S. poverty and attribute this improvement to effective government programs like tax credits and food assistance. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, released this week, the official poverty rate decreased from 12.7 percent in 2016 to 12.3 percent in 2017, now totaling 39.7 million people.
“The decrease in poverty is commendable, and it reaffirms the tremendous role of federal anti-poverty programs in ensuring low-income Americans can obtain benefits that help meet basic human needs,” said Diane Randall, Executive Secretary for FCNL. “Congress must fully fund government assistance programs to ensure ongoing progress in reducing poverty.”
The U.S. Census Bureau’s annual poverty data often mirror the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food insecurity figures. According to the USDA, 40 million Americans, or 15 million U.S. households, experienced food insecurity in 2017.
Though the overall poverty data are encouraging, poverty rates among children remain alarming. More than one in six children (or 8.9 million) experienced poverty in 2017. For children under five years old, nearly one in five experienced poverty.
The U.S. Census poverty data reflect the important role assistance programs like refundable tax credits (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) play in preventing people from falling into poverty. The tax credits and SNAP lifted 8.3 million and 3.4 million people, respectively, out of poverty in 2017. Despite the programs’ success, lawmakers are currently debating SNAP’s fate amid farm bill negotiations.
“For millions of Americans, cutting SNAP would mean the difference between putting food on the table or not,” explained Amelia Kegan, Legislative Director for Domestic Policy at FCNL. “Congress must do more to lift more Americans out of poverty especially in states like Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia, where the poverty rates are consistently near 20 percent.”
To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.
Founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), FCNL lobbies Congress and the administration for U.S. policies that advance peace, justice, and good government.