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America's Poor and the Great Recession

Kristin S. Seefeldt and John D. Graham. Foreword by Tavis Smiley

Publication Year: 2013

Millions have entered poverty as a result of the Great Recession's terrible toll of long-term unemployment. Kristin Seefeldt and John D. Graham examine recent trends in poverty and assess the performance of America’s "safety net" programs. They consider likely scenarios for future developments and conclude that the well-being of low-income Americans, particularly the working poor, the near poor, and the new poor, is at substantial risk despite economic recovery.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xii

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he spoke of a bold vision in which everyone on earth would enjoy safety and security. He believed wholeheartedly in a coming age in which every person would have enough to eat, access to education, and the respect owed to each human being. ...

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pp. xiii-xvi

The idea for this book originated in a conversation we had in 2010 with Mr. Tavis Smiley, a distinguished alumnus of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University and a well-known advocate for the interests of low-income Americans. ...

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pp. 1-4

The “Great Recession” officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. A slow recovery is underway, but the severity and extended duration of the downturn have inflicted long-lasting damage on individuals, families, and communities. ...

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Chapter 1. The Great Recession: Definition, Duration, and Impact

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pp. 5-16

A recession is an overall slowdown in economic activity in a geographic region, as opposed to a slowdown in sales by a particular company or in a specific industry sector. The key measures of economic activity are Gross Domestic Product (GDP), income, employment, industrial production, and sales of goods at the wholesale and retail levels. ...

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Chapter 2. The Impact of the Great Recession on Poverty in the U.S.

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pp. 17-41

We have established that the Great Recession caused a sharp increase in the U.S. unemployment rate, including the proportion who are unemployed long term. We turn now to the phenomenon of poverty and explore whether this metric of hardship has also been affected by the Great Recession. ...

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Chapter 3. Philanthropy and America’s Poor

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pp. 42-57

Should poverty—the lack of resources to meet basic needs—be addressed by private charity or by the state? Or by both? Although most western European nations have substantial government-funded programs to help the poor, until recently, many Asian societies relied almost entirely upon family networks to support needy adults and children.104 ...

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Chapter 4. America’s Partial Safety Net

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pp. 58-83

Over the last 75 years, the United States has built a safety net to offer protection for low-income129 individuals and families as well as other individuals who become unemployed. The phrase “low-income” refers generally to people who are poor or near-poor, usually with incomes less than some multiple of the official poverty line (e.g., 185% or 300%). ...

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Chapter 5. Risks to the Safety Net in the Aftermath of the Great Recession

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pp. 84-101

In 2009–2011, President Obama and the U.S. Congress took major steps aimed at bolstering the safety net during and soon after the Great Recession. The $787 billion stimulus package of 2009 contained a temporary burst of spending for safety net programs while the federal debt-ceiling agreement of 2011 was designed to shield the largest safety-net programs ...

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Chapter 6. Policy Options for Strengthening the Safety Net

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pp. 102-132

The Great Recession was so deep and lengthy, and the recovery so slow, that the number of people in America who are poor has reached the highest level—almost 50 million—since the official poverty statistic was established in the 1960s. The cruel reality is that poverty continued to increase in America for many months after the Great Recession ended in June 2009. ...


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pp. 133-154


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pp. 155-158

E-ISBN-13: 9780253009777
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253009678

Page Count: 178
Publication Year: 2013