The Census Bureau reports that 44 million Americans now live in poverty (that’s 1-in-7), an increase of 4 million from 2008. Given the high unemployment rate, this should not be surprising. Nevertheless, it is galling, because even as GDP has grown, productivity has increased, and profits have rebounded, those at the widening margins of the economy have suffered.
Of course, many argue that the poverty line ($10,830 for a single, $22,050 for a family of four pre-tax) is too low to capture what it intends to capture. With the news a few months ago that an alternative poverty measure was being established, I hoped that it would lay bare the structural injustice of the economy. However, stunning numbers like these in a rich country should by their own merit herald an economic crisis. This isn’t news to those willing to look at our economy away from the rose-colored glasses of neoclassical economics. What will it take for a movement to coalesce around this injustice?