Printed generic report with magnifying glass

Report: How much does it cost to be poor?

September 20, 2016

Our national partner, the Coalition on Human Needs (, just released a new report

The High Cost of Being Poor

Empower Missouri continues to fight for the proposals outlined in this report on the state level and supports the efforts of the Coalition on Human Needs in their national efforts.

The new Census Bureau data was just released this past week and the Coalition on Human Need used that data to put together this important report on the findings. In the report ,you will find data that shows some positives and some negatives. Highlights of the report include:

  • The Poverty rate in the U.S. declined from 14.8 percent in 2014 to 13.5 percent in 2015.
  • Still, 43.1 million adults and children remain in poverty.
  • From 2011 to 2015, unemployment declined from 10.3 percent to 6.3 percent.
  • The proportion of people without health insurance plunged from 15.1 percent to 9.4 percent over 2011-2015.

Even with those positives much more needs to be done to help the millions still struggling. The report also points out the high cost of being poor in the United States:

  •  The Census data show that 59 percent of American households with incomes less than $20,000 a year spend more than half of their income on rent alone.
  • On average, low-income households face slightly higher food prices than other households face for the same basket of food.
  • Low-wage workers are more likely to lack paid sick days and paid leave, and they are less likely to have predictable work schedules, leaving them with even less money to cover expenses.
  •  Many low-income Americans are forced to turn to payday loans which results in the borrowers being charged between 300 and 400 percent, on average, and being charged additional fees that quickly rack up when borrowers are forced to take out loan after loan just to repay the previous loan.

Finally, the report states things that can be done to help reduce further the number of individuals in poverty:

  • Increase federal funding for housing subsidies and child care subsidies.
  • Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Increase SNAP benefits and pass a Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill.
  • Expand Medicaid.
  • Pass new laws that restrict Predatory Lending Practices.
  • Raise the Minimum Wage.

Find the whole report HERE



Issue Areas