Agenda for Shared Prosperity

Poverty Amelioration

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According to EPI economist Jared Bernstein: "In a rich, advanced economy like the United States, poverty should be viewed as an aberration." Unfortunately this is not the case. In 2006, 12.3 percent of the US population — 36.5 million people — lived below the official poverty line, including 12.8 million children. Since 2000, the poverty rate has increased by about 1 percentage point, or 4.9 million persons, and the number of children living in poverty has increased by 12 percent, to 13 million.

Two reports prepared for the Agenda for Shared Prosperity argue that public policy can help to reduce poverty by increasing work supports and by maintaining a tight labor market.  Work, Work Supports, and Safety Nets by Jared Bernstein describe a set of social welfare policies that ensures that work is a pathway out of poverty and that revitalizes the nation's safety net and social insurance systems that keep people from falling into privation when the market fails them.

Analysts estimate that anywhere from a quarter to a third of U.S. workers hold low-wage jobs that provide few prospects for advancement and wage growth. Low wages, few employer-provided benefits, minimal savings, and increased debt have left large numbers of American workers and their families economically vulnerable. Improving Work Supports by Nancy Cauthen explains why an interlaced network of work supports are needed and how the United States needs to reform them.

Improving Work Supports: Closing the financial gap for low-wage workers and their families
by Nancy K. Cauthen

Work, Work Supports, and Safety Nets: Reducing the burden of low-incomes in America
by Jared Bernstein

A Plan to End Child Poverty: Britain's Initiative Has Helped 700,000 Kids. Why Don't We Have a Goal, Too?
by Jared Bernstein and Mark Greenberg in The Washington Post

Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support of the House Committee on Ways and Means, February 13, 2007, Statement of Jared Bernstein, Ph.D., Director of the Living Standards Program, Economic Policy Institute

Author Barbara Ehrenreich, Nancy Cauthen of Columbia University's National Center for Children and Poverty, and EPI's Jared Bernstein discussed various issues and present new research on the topic of poverty amelioration. Check out audio, video, slide shows, and a full transcript of the event.


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