2013 Federal Poverty Guidelines

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Taking a tour of any historical or famous American’s home provides a sobering window to the past in several ways. While some give off a sense of luxury of a bygone period of their past, it doesn’t take long to realize these dwellings lacked the basic amenities – hot water, plumbing, and electricity. To ponder the vast and incredible improvements that America has achieved over the last century would easily amaze these historic figures. Today it is possible for the poor in America to live at a standard that previous generations of similar means simply could not afford. The level of comfort poor Americans experience in today’s society far exceeds that of prior generations, creating a class that have no clear incentive to improve their economic standing. While this is indeed an accomplishment of our society, it has also created an unintended side effect -- a percentage of our working-age population no longer work for a living. “Poor” in America was defined in the early 1960’s by the US Census Bureau as “individuals with pre-tax income below the Poverty Threshold” (What). The “Poverty Threshold” in turn was calculated by the Secretary of Social Security as “3 times the average annual cost of food for subsistence of an individual, based on Department of Agriculture estimates.” This same formula is the basis for contemporary poverty statistics after corrections for inflation are added. Using this formula, the poverty line has gone from an estimated $3000 in the mid 1950s for a family of four to $23,050 as of 2012. One out of every four Americans was at, or below, the poverty line in the mid 1950’s. That number dropped significantly through the 1960’s and bottomed out at 11% in the early 1970’s, before increasing slowly to t... ... middle of paper ... ...epartment of Agriculture, 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. . Tanner, Michael D. "Why Get off Welfare?" Cato.org. Cato Institute, 22 Aug. 2013. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. . United States. U.S. Social Security Administration. Social Welfare Expenditures, 1950-75. By Alfred M. Skolnik and Sophie R. Dales. N.p.: n.p., 1976. Web. U.S. Department of Energy, Residential Energy Expenditure Survey, 2005, at http:// explore.data.gov/Energy-and-Utilities/Residential-Energy-Consumption-Survey- RECS- Files-A/eypy-jxs2 (June 23, 2011). "What Are Poverty Thresholds and Poverty Guidelines?" Irp.wisc.edu. Institute for Research on Poverty, 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. .
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