The High Cost of Being Poor

In recent years, many Americans have faced financial challenges, some of which were a direct result of the 2008 recession. While the economic crisis impacted the employment statuses of people nationwide, for many others an ongoing financial struggle wasn’t anything new.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2015 report, 13.5% of the U.S. population is living in poverty. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services 2017 poverty guidelines define the poverty line to be $12,060 annual income for a person living alone, and $16,240 annual income for a family/household of two. The Coalition on Human Needs notes that in two-thirds of poor families, at least one person is working, but the work isn’t always full-time or year-round.

It’s commonly known that the poor generally pay more for food, transportation, healthcare and – if they’re lucky, mortgages – than their middle-class counterparts.

Many think that the majority of poor people live in urban areas, but in fact, more and more of the poor are moving from cities to suburbs. A Brookings Institution report stated that from 2000 through 2013, low-income populations in suburbs surrounding the country’s largest metropolitan areas grew 66%, while the populations of poor people in urban areas grew by 30%.

Healthcare is an important factor in poverty. The Coalition on Human Needs states that medical costs are even more of a burden for the poor in states that did not take advantage of the Affordable Care Act option to use federal Medicaid dollars to expand health coverage to low-income adults. Health outcomes for people in poverty are also less favorable.