America’s Poverty in 2008 Overview

The poverty threshold of America is measured by the Census Bureau of America. It was implemented in 1969 as a result of Mollie Orshansky’s development strategy in 1963 to combat poverty. Her development strategy was based on poverty thresholds using an economic food plan.  The thresholds were calculated according to the net income of families of three or more. Most were families who had one breadwinner.

This was on the basis of findings that a third of a family’s net income was spent on food. The Bureau of the Budget confirmed the federal government’s official definition of poverty defined by the threshold of low-income poverty-stricken people.

Their annual findings of poverty data during 2008 were based on the combined incomes from the population during the months of January to December. The poverty threshold measured found that in order for anyone to survive poverty with a minimal amount of money to afford essential goods and service was:

An individual required $10991 per year.

A couple in marriage required $14051 per year.

A family of four required $22025 per year.

High levels of poverty during 2008 were fueled by the US economic recession, high levels of unemployment which was majorly affected by work-related disabilities and lack of education.

The Statistics

A Poverty of the Nation

In 2008, it was reported that nearly 40 million Americans were living in poverty. This included more than 10 million children. Basically, the poverty rate at that time was a whopping 13.2%. Urban poverty measured at 17.7% and suburban poverty at 9.8%.

It was also discovered that the levels of poverty were higher in metropolitan areas compared to suburban areas. The unemployment rates from 2008 until late 2009 were measured at 5.8%. When unemployment rates measure over 9%, this calculated rate increases by 0.7% per year.

Groups of Poverty

33.3 million native Americans suffered in poverty. The statistics revealed that poverty increased due to the lack of education and skills as well as disabilities. 9.4 million African American people had incomes below the poverty threshold as well as 1 million Hispanic people.  This figure excluded foreigners and non-citizens.  Approximately 6.5 million foreigners and 5 million non-citizens were recorded as falling below the poverty threshold.

Between 2007 and 2008, child poverty increased to 19%. The combination of different ethnic groups of children living in poverty amounted to 13.5 million. This included 3.8 million African American children, 4.9 million Hispanic children, and 4.1 million non-Hispanic children.

Adults who were found to have little to no skills and education, unemployment, and work-related disabilities were prone to poverty. The elderly people from age 65 and older living in poverty were recorded at 3.7 million.

Programs Providing Assistance

Various programs which aid in assisting poverty-stricken families have been implemented over the years. These include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Other programs which assist in various other ways such as financing, health care, and housing are:


Rented housing owned by the government are provided through programs of subsidized housing, housing vouchers, and public housing. A program which aids in helping low-income families pay for electricity and home improvements is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.


A great program which provides money to low-income elderly people, adults, children with disabilities, and pregnant women is The Supplemental Security Income Program.

Health Care

Medicaid – provides low-income medical benefits to the elderly, adults, children, and pregnant women

Children’s Health Insurance Program – provides medically uninsured children with insured coverage of medical and dental care.

Through job creation, charities which offer services in providing educational and financial resources, and zero discrimination towards the physically disabled in the workplace will significantly decrease poverty levels. Let us unite as a country and work together to fight poverty in America!