Poverty increases sharply while work-based health coverage declines
New data released today by the Census Bureau shows incomes and health coverage declined significantly in 2008, even before the worst of the recession hit full-force in the current year.
The new data show that the heaviest cost of our economic woes is being borne by the nation’s children. As Economic Policy Institute labor market economist Heidi Shierholz observed, the story told by today’s data is of a “lost decade” for children. Here’s the full text of her comment:
“The new child poverty rate of 19.0% (up from 18.0% in 2007) translates to 14.1 million kids living in poverty in the richest nation on earth. In 2008, more than one in three - 35.3% - of all people living in poverty were children. We project that with the continuing deterioration in the labor market, by 2009 a quarter of all children in this country will be living in poverty and by 2010 the child poverty rate will be 26.6%. This would represent an increase of 10.4 percentage points from 2000 to 2010 – truly a lost decade.”
Elise Gould, Director of Health Care Policy at the Economic Policy Institute, offered this quick analysis after her first look at the numbers released this morning:
“Today’s Census report shows that the current system is failing to provide stable and secure coverage for a growing number of Americans. Employment-based health coverage dropped for the eighth year in a row -- from 59.3% of Americans covered in 2007 to 58.5% in 2008 -- while the number of Americans without any insurance rose from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million in 2008. It’s a virtual certainty that with the deepening of the recession this year, more Americans are losing health insurance. Americans need affordable, secure alternatives to a system wherein you lose your coverage when you lose your job. The status quo is simply not a viable solution.”