War on Poverty update: 1 in 3 Americans dipped below poverty line from 2009 to 2011

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Although the government has spent $20.7 trillion on welfare programs since 1964 according to Heritage Institution estimates, a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that poverty has affected nearly a third of all Americans in recent years.

While the current annual poverty rate in America is 15 percent, the census report reveals a more fluid situation over shorter periods of time in which people move in and out of the designation.

The Census Bureau reports that from 2009 to 2011, 31.6 percent of Americans were in poverty for at least two months. The calculation represents a 4.5 percent increase from the 27.1 percent from 2005 to 2007.

“When people see poverty statistics, they often think these are people who were poor during an entire period,” said Ashley Edwards, a poverty analyst at the Census Bureau and author of the report.

According to Edwards’ report, looking at poverty at varying intervals provides “a complex picture of poverty,” where most people are experiencing a “transitory state rather than a permanent state, and most poverty spells were short.”

The percentage of people who remained in poverty for all 36 months, from 2009 to 2011, was 3.5 percent. Three years prior, the percentage was three percent.

And while some people remained in poverty from 2009 to 2011, 34.5 percent of people who were in poverty in 2009 were no longer poor by 2011.

Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of war against poverty.

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