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Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023: Causes and Trends

In the world’s wealthiest country, approximately 40 million people (11%) live in poverty. It highlights the unfairness of poverty in such wealthy countries and offers workable answers to ongoing problems. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023, Poverty is a result of powerlessness, not scarcity.

In America, structural inequality has trapped millions of hardworking families in poverty, particularly historically marginalized people – disproportionately Black and Brown, immigrants and refugees, and women and girls. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023.

The organization believes that we can find a path to prosperity and justice in our economy and society. And as our world gets smaller and the global economy reaches everyone, our solutions should be global too, so poverty in the USA could be reduced too.

Working poor advocacy agenda in the USA

“Millions of Americans work hard in jobs that cannot financially sustain them and their families. Low-paying employment doesn’t bring in enough money to cover the necessities of living. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. They do not offer adequate benefits to meet the demands of raising children, and they often leave workers lacking in pursuing avenues of happiness, such as education or saving for retirement. The organization conducts important and vital research that unveils the realities of life for hardworking, impoverished individuals. that’s appreciated.

The DBEAST Estate Work Index is an annual research product that assesses and ranks states based on labor policies organization has sounded the alarm that it is time to increase the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. Since 2014, we have made updates to the minimum wage map, which highlights its effects on population by gender, race, and family status.

Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023
Working poor advocacy
  • Since 2022, when the low-wage issue in America first surfaced, it has become clear how low wages affect many American communities, including those based on race, gender, family structure, and age. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023.
  • In 2019, we had a report that was without any additions, along with an interactive map.
  • In 2016, our report ‘Few Rewards’ outlined four essential elements for addressing the working poor agenda.
  • In 2014, we initiated original research into how low-wage workers are concentrated in congressional districts. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. We prepared a report (‘Working Poor in America’) and an online interactive map that illustrates the number and percentage of workers benefiting from an increase in the minimum wage in each district.
  • According to a report we released in 2013 based on our poll, the majority of low-wage workers struggle to make ends meet, prioritizing their families’ essential needs, and frequently turning to loans, credit card bills, and payday loans to get by. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. Government programs are often their only means of support. Oxfam aims to bring new perspectives and insights to the discussion on poverty, shedding light on harsh realities
  • Our Voices on US Poverty Party submitted a request for 20 op-eds in national media outlets. A series of articles concluded with an event at the National Press Club, featuring author Tim Noah as the moderator and four panelists.

Decent work IN the USA and Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023

The work of organization America is conceived with the idea of decent work.

It can offer fair compensation, respectable employment opportunities, health and safety guarantees, career alternatives, and the ability to speak up at work.
Today, millions of people hold occupations that provide appallingly low pay, scant benefits, support a broken system, create hazardous circumstances, and abuse their right to speak out.
In conclusion, these employees are denied their basic right to “decent work.” Despite their increased effort, they are lagging behind and losing hope. As our economy expands, our democracy weakens.

Poultry worker justice campaign

Organization America initiated a campaign to expose the human cost of the poultry industry in the United States. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023.  Poultry workers in America face extremely high injury rates, earn wages at poverty levels enhancing poverty in the USA, and work in environments of fear.

“In 2020 and 2021, as COVID-19 affected individuals in poultry and meat plants, we worked with a broad coalition to demand immediate, appropriate actions to safeguard the lives and well-being of workers.

Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023
Poultry worker justice

Our report, which initiated the campaign, ‘Lives on the Line,’ examines the hazardous conditions in poultry processing plants, which contribute to high rates of illnesses and injuries, and exposes industrial practices designed to prevent workers from reporting violations and organizing. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023.

Subsequent to the report, ‘No Relief,’ it reveals the routine denial of bathroom breaks on poultry processing lines and the lengths workers go to cope with it.

organization multimedia website uses videos and interactive graphics to share the stories of workers and advocates.

Farmworker rights

Farm labor in America is among the most unhealthy and low-paying professions, with a large number of immigrant workers who have been marginalized and exploited for decades.  Organizations have worked with advocating for farmworkers’ rights in the United States, striving to improve working and living conditions, increase wages, win the right to organize and support the efforts of self-employed workers.

Organizations have worked together with all food chain participants to develop a project that has the potential to improve the lives of millions of farmers and decrease poverty in the USA.

In order to create a set of just and verifiable certification standards, supply chain stakeholders are brought together by the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI). Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023.
Campaigns by organizations to protect farmworkers’ human rights have been backed by organizations like the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC).
Our joint report, “State of Fear,” has exposed inhumane conditions faced by farmworkers in tobacco fields in North Carolina.

Challenges facing working women

Despite significant advancements for women in the workplace in America, they still face a number of challenges at work and at home, which have a detrimental effect on their salaries, hours worked, possibilities, and risk of harassment. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023.

Poverty in the USA in 2023
Challenges facing working women

For working women, the best and worst states in the country formulate state laws, and states rank policies affecting women in the workforce from best to worst. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. In the United States, there is a strong focus on gender segregation in low-cost and low-wage labor markets, seeking characteristics of low-paying jobs where women are concentrated.

Regarding the Working Fair, it highlights sexual violence against women farm workers in the United States, showing that the strong power imbalance in the agriculture industry creates an environment where sexual violence is common.

Women identify in poultry processing lines based on gender-specific goggles in current conditions.

Poverty has both social and political implications

In the United States, there are both social and political impacts of poverty. In past 2020, 37.2 million people were living in poverty. This is influenced by a variety of issues, such as income inequality, inflation, unemployment, getting caught in the debt cycle, and inadequate education. The majority of adults facing poverty in the USA are employed and have received at least a high school education. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. While the United States is relatively wealthy by international standards, its poverty rate remains consistently high compared to other developed countries, primarily due to a less generous welfare system.

Since 2011, the Census Bureau has been providing updates on a fresh measurement known as the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. This initiative not only takes into account cash income but also considers non-cash government assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as food stamps) and Medicaid (which provides healthcare for low-income individuals). Furthermore, the SPM adjusts for regional differences in the cost of living, making it a more comprehensive way to estimate poverty.

Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023
Poverty has both social and political implications

In 2021, according to the SPM, approximately 7.8% of Americans were living in poverty, whereas the Official Poverty Measure (OPM) pegged this number at 11.6%. Under the OPM, in 2021, the poverty threshold in the USA was $13,800 for an individual and $27,700 for a family of four.

Looking at a broader international perspective, in 2020, the World Bank reported that only 0.25% of Americans were living below the international extreme poverty line, meaning surviving on less than $2.15 per day adjusted for purchasing power parity in 2017.

The 2020 assessment conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that the percentage of poverty in the USA had decreased significantly, thanks to the unprecedented period of economic growth. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. However, between May and October 2020, approximately eight million individuals were thrust into poverty due to the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the discontinuation of financial support from the CARES Act.


History of Poverty in the USA Progressive era 1890s-1920s

In 1873, Henry George’s book “Progress and Poverty” stirred public interest in the question of how poverty can persist even during times of economic growth. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. The late 19th century saw the rise of the progressive movement, coinciding with economic development. The inception of the Progressive American Social Survey took place in 1895 with the publication of maps and documents by Hull House.

Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023
History of Poverty in USA

This study included articles and maps collected through the efforts of Florence Kelley and her colleagues, along with the work of the United States Bureau of Labor. It focused on studying conditions in Chicago neighborhoods, incorporating four color-coded maps, which were a precursor to Charles Booth’s pioneering work in London, documenting people’s lives and labor based on nationality and income levels. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023.

Another social reformer, Jacob Riis, documented life in New York’s tenements and slums in his 1890 book, “How the Other Half Lives.

Great Depression

“A Special Group Struggling with Poverty: In this particular group, poverty prevails, consisting mainly of poor and tenant farmers in the southern region. These farmers comprised a quarter of the population in the South, with a majority being African Americans. Historian James T. Peterson refers to them as the “old poverty,” distinct from the later emerging “new poverty.” The Great Depression marked the beginning of a significant downturn.

Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023
Great Depression

During the Depression, the government did not provide any unemployment insurance, which led those deprived of jobs to easily slip into poverty. Those who lost their employment or homes resided in shanty towns or Hoover villas.  Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. Numerous New Deal programs were initiated to boost employment and alleviate poverty. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration paid special attention to eradicating poverty and generating employment opportunities. While these jobs paid more than direct relief payments (referred to as “the dole”), they were more psychologically beneficial for the unemployed, who were eager for any kind of work.

The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Public Works Administration are two other New Deal initiatives that attempted to improve welfare and create jobs.
Furthermore, one of the key contributors to the decline in poverty was the Social Security Administration.

Poverty war

Several factors contributed to initiating a national war against poverty in the USA  in the 1960s. In 1962, Michael Harrington’s book, ‘The Other America,’ played a significant role in fostering public debate and awareness about poverty issues.

Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023
Poverty war

The war on poverty recognized the federal government’s role in addressing education and healthcare in poverty reduction and introduced numerous programs through the newly established Office of Economic Opportunity. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. The war on poverty was more effective in studying poverty through various methods and accurate statistical data. The official American poverty measurement was only adopted in 1969.

21st Century and Exploring Poverty in the USA

In the 21st century, a significant economic downturn played a crucial role in exacerbating poverty in the USA once again. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. The number of individuals living in poverty had risen to levels not seen since the 1960s by 2009, sparking a national campaign to eradicate it.

The 2010 census data revealed that half of the population was either impoverished or living on low incomes, with one in five enduring poverty for a thousand years. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023. The policies of neoliberal adjustments and globalization have left economically disadvantaged communities stranded, controlling them as “excess population” and subjecting them to punitive measures.

Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023
21st Century and Poverty in USA

Numerous international organizations have focused their efforts on addressing these poverty issues plaguing America. In 2013, a UNICEF report ranked the United States second in terms of child poverty rates among developed countries. To encourage women to enter the labor force, they were offered childcare incentives. In December 2017, Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, conducted a two-week investigation into the effects of military poverty in the United States and severely condemned the “extreme poverty at private and public levels.” Alabama’s “worst poverty in the developed world” report was released in May 2018, shedding light on the fact that 40 million people live in poverty and over 5 million reside in conditions akin to the “third world.”

According to the 2020 Census Bureau, as per the 2019 data, the percentage of Americans living in poverty (pre-COVID-19 pandemic) had reached its lowest level in recent years, standing at 11.1%. However, between May and October 2020, the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the exhaustion of funds provided through the CARES Act, pushed nearly 8 million individuals into poverty. Exploring Poverty in the USA in 2023

According to the OECD, approximately 23% of American workers are employed in low-wage jobs, while in the United Kingdom, this rate is 17%, in Japan, it’s 11%, and in Italy, it’s 5%. In January 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11.6% of the American population, or 37.9 million people, were living in poverty (for example, a family of three with earnings below $21,559). In his 2023 book “Poverty, by America,” economic scholar Matthew Desmond writes that in the past half-century, there has been no significant improvement in the poverty rate in the United States. In 2019, 11% of the population was living in poverty, while in 1970, this rate was 12%.

Social scientist Mark Robert Rank writes in 2023 that in the past four decades, there has been a decline in social safety net programs, reduced mobility, and income inequality. Along with this, the United States lags in providing global childcare, healthcare, and other social benefits, resulting in a significantly higher poverty rate in the United States when compared to peer countries.

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