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Reasons for Reform: Helping People Escape Poverty

October 15, 2015

Last week, Ways and Means launched a new series highlighting the many different reasons for welfare reform, and why now is the time to get started. Need a refresher? Think over 46 million Americans living in poverty.

And though billions of taxpayer dollars are spent annually on our welfare system, the end products aren’t exactly giving people the hand up they need. While record numbers of Americans are stuck in poverty, our system is failing to promote the work and opportunity they need to lift themselves out of it.

Unfortunately, last week’s list of reasons we need reform is just the start. Poverty rates continue to rise while American optimism is on the decline. Last time we checked, this isn’t the American idea that people know.

By focusing our efforts on reforms to help people move from welfare to work, we can offer a better future to those who want and need it most—an idea both sides of the aisle can get behind. So, with that, here are the next five Reasons for Reform.

6. The poverty rate in the U.S. was 14.8 percent in 2014—2.3 percentage points higher than it was in 2007.


7. Most people living in poverty are adults between the ages of 18 and 64. The most common reason why? Lack of work.


8. In virtually every state, the poverty rate in 2014 was higher than it was in 2007—before the recession.


9. Poverty among working-age women is higher than ever. This decade, over 15 percent of women ages 18 through 64 were in poverty, compared to about 13 percent in the three decades prior.


10. Poverty among working-age men is higher than ever. This decade, almost 12 percent of men ages 18 through 64 were stuck in poverty, compared to about 9 percent in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.