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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Poverty Rate in the United States reaches Highest Level in over 50 years—How does this impact Howard County?

A report released by the Census Bureau recently shows that the poverty rate has increased to 14.3% of the population and now over 20% of children live in poverty.  The only decline was with senior citizens who are protected by Social Security. Is the middle class in our Country disappearing?

Do we live in an economic “bubble” in Howard County when it comes to poverty?  Poverty and Howard County don’t seem to go together.  High per capita income and high school achievement levels are what define Howard County.  But are we immune from the economic realities that are devastating the rest of the nation? Do the poor really reside in Howard County?  What does a poor person in Howard County look like?

Next Wednesday Sept. 21st the Association of Community Services is releasing a study that was conducted by the Policy Analysis Center on behalf of the Association.  The Policy Analysis Center is a jointly operated by the Horizon Foundation and the Association.  A disclaimer might be necessary.  I have been the Executive Director of the Association for the past two months and it might be a little self-serving to blog on this but it is of such importance that I want to this one time promote this important study.

So back to the question “What does a poor person look like in Howard County?”  Almost always this is a working person in one of our lower paying occupations.  Poverty in our County is someone who goes to work 40 hours a week. Often the person is a single parent struggling to afford health care because their employer doesn’t provide health insurance and day care that can easily eat up more than half their wages.  Many times the lack of job skills and education make the path to a higher paying job difficult.

So does that mean that Howard County just doesn’t have a place for persons with lower wage jobs? You can work here but not live here?  As the study lays out the challenges of lower income wage earners it can also provide the road map to a path to self sufficiency.

Association of Community Services General Meeting
Owen Brown Interfaith Center
12 pm September 21st

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