Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty in Ulster County

Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP)Image via WikipediaAll over the blogosphere today -- Blog Action Day -- people are posting about poverty -- we thought we'd share some facts about poverty in Ulster County.

First, let's put poverty in context:
The federal government puts the poverty threshold at $20,614 for a family of four. However, a 2000 poll revealed that a majority of Americans believe it takes at least $35,000 annually to provide adequately for a family of four. (Poverty Pulse, CCHD)

So, how many Ulster County residents live in poverty? (Source: US Census)
  • 10.6% of individuals in Ulster County -- 7.5% of those over 65; 12.2% of children meet the Federal definition of living in poverty
  • While only 6.8% of Ulster County families live in poverty, almost one in four single moms and their kids -- 25% of families with female head of household -- meet the poverty criteria. Single moms have a tough time making ends meet.
But, how many are trying to manage on less than $35,000/year?
  • About 32% of households have less than $35,000 in income
  • The mean retirement income is $23,272.
In fact, if you work full time at a job that pays NYS minimum wage ($7.15/hour) you will only earn $14,872 a year. Try to raise your children on that.

We share these figures with you, not to say how bad things are in Ulster County. We know many communities are much poorer. Rather, we want you to be aware that people all around us contend with poverty every day -- the person waiting on you in the corner store, the retiree who sees their savings shrinking, never to be replaced again, the mother who can't risk or afford time off from her job for parent-teacher meetings.

Today, take a minute to think about what you can do to help. Person to person, community-wide, politically, nationally, internationally. Poverty has many faces and needs many different strategies.

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