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Income Inequality

Blog Posts tagged "Income Inequality"

Welcome to This Week in Equity Engagement on Twitter (TWEET) for the week of October 19, 2015. Another eventful week comes to a close, and we have some great social media resources for you. Check it out:

Another report that shows that soda taxes can be effective at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Most Americans understand the importance of access to healthy foods.

Ten years ago this weekend, the world watched as Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and laid bare the inequities that are deeply ingrained in American society. Perhaps no single event has ever highlighted the intersection between race, poverty, climate, and health as clearly as the devastation in New Orleans.

Katrina put a spotlight on an uncomfortable truth: that millions of people in this country live in abject poverty and that communities of color are far more likely to experience the consequences of the country’s entrenched inequality. In 2005, nearly 40 million Americans (roughly 1 in every 7) lived in poverty. A decade later, there has been hardly any change in the nation’s poverty rate. In Louisiana, 34% of Blacks live in poverty compared to 10% of Whites. High poverty rates have made housing less affordable, and as a result, low-income populations and communities of color often live in areas of concentrated poverty in substandard housing with the constant threat of eviction. Even though Katrina took place nearly 2,000 miles away from California, the underlying social factors that exacerbated the destruction experienced by low-income communities of color – particularly African Americans – are evident here and throughout the country. 

Anyone working in social justice knows that poverty is at the root of many societal inequities, and health is no exception. There are roughly 6 million people living in poverty in California, with communities of color representing over three-quarters (75.5%) of this population. These numbers, from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, paint a startling picture of inequality in our state, but a new report from the United Ways of California, Struggling to Get By: The Real Cost Measure in California 2015, shows that it actually is much worse.

The Census numbers rely on the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is currently $11,770 per year for an individual and $24,250 per year for a family of four. What Struggling to Get By reveals, however, is that those numbers are actually too low. The report creates a new metric, the Real Cost Measure, to analyze what a family’s true expenses are and what the necessary annual income is to meet them. While the Real Cost Measure varies by location based on cost-of-living differences, the average income needed to meet basic needs costs for a family of two adults, one infant, and one school-aged child who rent housing is $57,202 per year, or nearly two and a half times FPL. San Francisco’s Real Cost Measure, the highest in the state, is $73,894 per year, or more than three times FPL. The lowest Real Cost Measure in the state, $43,229 in Tulare County, is still nearly twice FPL.