Friday, September 26, 2008

Wall Street Financial Crisis Raises Issue of Families Living in Poverty

In the wake of the financial crisis on Wall Street, The United States Joint Economic Committee held a congressional hearing on Thursday, September 24 entitled, “Leave No Family Behind: How Can We Reduce the Rising Number of American Families Living in Poverty?” Headed by Chairman Senator Charles Schumer and Vice-Chair, Representative Carolyn Maloney, the hearing featured a number of poverty expert panelists who offered insight on the current state of poverty and how to deal with the rising number of families in poverty.

The most recent statistical figures on poverty show that the rate rose 12.5% in 2007. According to panelist John W. Edwards, Jr., Chairman of the Community Action Partnership, Inc., this increase has been marked by a rise in the number of married couples who are in poverty. As a result of the increasing poverty rates, $679 billion will be spent on means-tested welfare programs in fiscal year 2008. These programs provide cash, food, housing and free or subsidized medical care. Panelists cited the outdated poverty measure as a cause for concern; the measure is still based on the average amount a family spent on food in the 1950s.

As the country confronts severe economic upheaval, many Americans will be affected adversely. According to Senator Schumer, “recessions hit the ordinary working Americans of Main Street the hardest.” The situation on Wall Street will very likely serve as a catalyst for pulling many families into poverty because of job loss, salary loss and benefit loss.

Though policy makers in Washington are currently pushing for legislation to reform systems which seem to lack in effectiveness, you and your family should take great care to reduce the impact of financial crises by making smart financial decisions. Visit the WISER website for a variety of tips and suggestions on smart money management.

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