Earned Income Tax Credit And Unemployment Insurance Kept 8.6 Million People Out Of Poverty Last Year

Our guest blogger is Desmond Brown, a consultant for the Half in Ten campaign at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its latest data, which shows that 15.1 percent of Americans were living in poverty in 2010. (The government defined poverty as a family of four with annual earnings less than $22,314.) Last year, some 46 million Americans fell into poverty, an increase of 2.6 million people over 2009, and the largest number in 52 years.

The Census data also showed a decline in income and a rise in economic hardship in the United States, with real median income falling 2.3 percent to $49,445 and 50 million people going without health care coverage.

But the data did include a positive sign that shows the impact of government intervention in supporting low-income people. The earned income tax credit and unemployment insurance kept 8.6 million people out of poverty – showing the ongoing need for these critical safety net programs. The EITC kept 3 million children alone out of poverty:

The overall 2010 poverty data offer a bleak outlook for the fragile U.S. economy, but they also provide a clear sign to policymakers that government interventions work to keep families from falling deeper into poverty and facing further economic hardship. As policymakers on Capitol Hill continue to debate how to fix the nation’s deficit crisis, the 2010 data highlight the need for ongoing investments into programs that can get more Americans back to work.