This is how bad it got: Poverty and Unemployment Insurance

This chart is pretty staggering, and gives a little more credence to the call to keep expanding unemployment insurance, even if Sharron Angle thinks it “spoils” the unemployed. This chart comes from Arloc Sherman from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who writes:

The headline story in today’s Census Bureau report is the large jump in the poverty rate in 2009. But an exclusive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of the new survey data shows that unemployment insurance benefits — which expanded substantially last year in response to the increased need — kept 3.3 million people out of poverty in 2009.

In other words, there were 43.6 million Americans whose families were below the poverty line in 2009, according to the official poverty statistics, which count jobless benefits as part of families’ income. But if you don’t count jobless benefits, 46.9 million Americans were poor.

So, when we’re sitting around wondering when the economy will be magically fixed, and the middle class will come back, and the unemployment will drop to normal levels, and we’ll end poverty, and everybody will live fiscally secure, stable, and comfortable lives again, it’s good to remember just how bad it got, and that we’re going to have to be very patient.


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