According to research produced by a researcher at the University of Michigan, the United States is now confronted with the largest number of long-term unemployed people (4.7 million) since records were first kept in 1948, according to research from the University of Michigan. "About 46 million Americans, according to our latest count, are poor. That means for a family of four, they're living on less than $23,000 a year," said Professor Kristin Seefeldt of the U-M School of Social Work. She is also affiliated with the Ford School of Public Policy. She added "This is the highest rate of poverty that we've had in about 15 years."
Professor Seefeldt was joined in her research by John Graham, the dean of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He served in the White Office of Management and Budget during the George W. Bush administration is the author of Bush on the Home Front.
They focused on the safety net for the poor and how it performed during the recession. They contend that some programs worked, such as federal food programs and Medicaid, while federal cash assistance for the non-disabled poor and federal housing programs did not respond much to the burgeoning numbers of families in need of help. They are the authors of a book entitled America's Poor and the Great Recession
Charitable donations for programs that serve the poor declined abruptly during the recession. They have yet to recover. As governments are facing shortfalls in revenues, due to factors such as home foreclosures, unemployment, and out-migration. they may face cutting back programs intended to help the poor. "Low-income Americans may prove to be more vulnerable during the slow recovery from the Great Recession than they were at lowest point of the downturn," Seefeldt said.
Professors Seefeldt and Graham suggest several fixes in the book including a modernization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Unemployment Insurance programs and the creation of an automatic link between the size of block grants to states and trends in the business cycle.
"More than anything else, what is needed is a rapidly growing economy," Seefeldt said. "A more robust recovery will help the poor, stimulating philanthropic giving and reducing the temptations of politicians to cut spending for the safety net."
The research was spurred by a request from PBS radio host Tavis Smiley, who wrote the forward.
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