STATEMENT: CAP’s Melissa Boteach on Census Poverty Data Release

Washington, D.C. — Melissa Boteach, vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity program at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement today upon release of annual census estimates of income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in 2016.

2016 marks the first year that the poverty rate returned to pre-recession levels, underscoring the improvements in family economic security made under the Obama administration. While this represents important progress for millions of working families, it also underscores the precarity of these gains, with millions of Americans’ livelihoods at stake in upcoming budget and tax fights.

The data show that Social Security, nutrition assistance, and working-family tax credits bolstered economic security for millions of families, and yet they remain under daily political siege from the Trump administration and Congress. In fact, if just three of the cuts that President Donald Trump proposed in his budget had been in effect in 2015,  2.3 million more Americans would have been in poverty.

The income and health insurance data also underscore what is at stake for working families. Even as the richest 5 percent of households captured 22.5 percent of all income, President Trump and Congress are proposing even more tax cuts for millionaires and corporations alongside proposals to gut Social Security and Medicaid. And despite historic gains in health coverage in the past six years, Trump and Congress continue to try and sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

While families saw important progress last year, there is still a lot of economic pain with 30 percent of families living paycheck to paycheck. Rather than pushing policies that give massive tax cuts to the rich, gut basic living standards for struggling families, and reduce access to health care and raise premiums, the White House and Congress must step up to create jobs and provide certainty to Americans fighting to get by.

In the coming days, CAP will publish a larger analysis of policy implications from the national data on poverty, income, and health insurance coverage. Later this week, CAP will update data analysis tools on TalkPoverty.org with new state and congressional district data. TalkPoverty.org is a resource for data, rankings, and interactive maps covering poverty rates, inequality, hunger, health coverage, and more.

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For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Devon Kearns at 202.741.6290 or dkearns@americanprogress.org.