Recession scars linger — no group unscathed

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The  latest census data shows that over the past 10 years, poverty in Michigan has grown by 66%, the fastest growth in the nation.

Nearly 1.7 million people lived in poverty in 2011, 17.5% of the population.  Data continually shows that the middle class is decreasing and that poverty and economic insecurity are growing, and no group has been immune.

Males, traditionally buffered from harsh downturns, saw a 30% rise in poverty since 2007, married-couple families experienced a 50% jump in poverty, and white Michiganians experienced the highest growth in poverty of all races/ethnic groups during the recession.

While forecasts indicate that the economy is improving, not everyone is being swept up in the recovery.  More than 400,000 people are still unemployed and one in every four children lives in poverty.  Michigan has had the largest drop in median income in the nation over the past 10 years and the share of households making less than $35,000 is growing while the share of households that earn $50,000 or more a year is shrinking.

Now is not the time to make cuts or limit access to the economic supports available to families in need.  Cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit, reduction of the length of time someone can receive unemployment, and policies that seek to reduce access to cash assistance and food assistance will only delay the recovery and make it more difficult for people to become economically secure.

— Melissa K. Smith