Lifetime poverty risk in the U.S. is increasing

Economic recovery? AP reporter Hope Yen has issued this report, based on data sometimes overlooked by the government, which maintains that the likelihood that someone in the U.S. will live in poverty in his or her lifetime is on the rise. Some excerpts:

Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle
with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least
parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an
elusive American dream. Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an
increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and
poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the
trend. * * *

While racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty,
race disparities in the poverty rate have narrowed substantially since
the 1970s, census data show. Economic insecurity among whites also is
more pervasive than is shown in the government's poverty data, engulfing
more than 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60,
according to a new economic gauge being published next year by the
Oxford University Press.* * * Sometimes termed "the invisible poor" by demographers, lower-income
whites generally are dispersed in suburbs as well as small rural towns,
where more than 60 percent of the poor are white. Concentrated in
Appalachia in the East, they are numerous in the industrial Midwest and
spread across America's heartland, from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma
up through the Great Plains. Buchanan County, in southwest Virginia, is among the nation's
most destitute based on median income, with poverty hovering at 24
percent. The county is mostly white, as are 99 percent of its poor. * * *

Census figures provide an official measure of poverty, but they're
only a temporary snapshot that doesn't capture the makeup of those who
cycle in and out of poverty at different points in their lives. They may
be suburbanites, for example, or the working poor or the laid off. In 2011 that snapshot showed 12.6 percent of adults in their
prime working-age years of 25-60 lived in poverty. But measured in terms
of a person's lifetime risk, a much higher number — 4 in 10 adults —
falls into poverty for at least a year of their lives. The risks of poverty also have been increasing in recent
decades, particularly among people ages 35-55, coinciding with widening
income inequality. For instance, people ages 35-45 had a 17 percent risk
of encountering poverty during the 1969-1989 time period; that risk
increased to 23 percent during the 1989-2009 period. For those ages
45-55, the risk of poverty jumped from 11.8 percent to 17.7 percent.

 For some of our earlier coverage on widening wealth inequality in the U.S., go  here, here, here, here, and here.

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