Gender, Race, Age of the Poor in Philadelphia, PA and U.S

Michael Paesani – 8B


Poverty by Race in America & Philadelphia

            In the United States, the poverty rate is growing as a result of the bad economy and the high unemployment rate, among other factors.  The people most affected by these conditions are the Hispanic people and African Americans. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2006 the poverty rate in America for African Americans was 25%; for Hispanics, 21%; 10% for Asians; and 8% for non-Hispanic Whites. Just three years later, in 2009, the rate for African Americans increased to 25.8%, for Hispanics it rose to 25.3%, for Asians it rose to 12.5% and for non-Hispanic Whites it increased to 9.4%. These are the highest poverty rates in the past 15 years. The Hispanics had the greatest percent of increase at +4.3%, followed by the Asians with a +2.5% increase, and the non-Hispanic Whites which increased +1.4%. African Americans had the smallest increase (+.8%).

            In 2009, the city of Philadelphia had poverty rates higher than the national rates.  Hispanics had the highest rate at 40%; the African Americans, 27%; Asians 25%; and Whites were 14%. In the Philadelphia area, the increase of immigrants has contributed to these high poverty rates.

            Among the other factors that drive up the poverty rate are low household incomes, the increase in single-parent families, and below average education levels. If we look at the dropout rate in 2008 by race we can see that it is 18.3 % for Hispanics and 9.9% for African Americans, compared to 4.8% for whites, and 4.4% for Asians. This is a major problem which contributes to the high poverty rates for Hispanics and African Americans. The growing importance of education in the job market, and the tendency for those over age 65 to continue working results in lower household incomes, and limited job opportunities for these groups. This in turn leads to the higher poverty rates among the Hispanics and African Americans.

            Another way to compare poverty is to look at the median household income by race. The government gauges poverty based on a person or family’s mediam household income. This income is different than the average income because it is calculated without the income of billionaires and millionaires which throws off the results. If we look at the median income of households by race, African Americans have the lowest income among all the races, $32,584, followed by Hispanics with $38,039, and by non-Hispanic Whites with $54,461. Asians actually are at the top of the chart with a medium household income of $65,469.

            Many factors are contributing to the poverty problem in the United States. Government funded programs are helping those in poverty to survive, but the underlying problems are not being addressed. So, until the government steps in to create jobs here in the United States, and Americans do a better job of educating its young, we will continue to see a rise in poverty.