A report this summer from the National Poverty Center (NPC) reveals that the number of people in the US living on less than $2 a day per person, termed “extreme poverty,” increased by 160 percent from 1996 to mid-2011, rising from 636,000 households to some 1.65 million households. The findings throw light on the terrible plight of children in America. Concentrating on non-elderly households with children, the report found that 4.3 percent of these households were in extreme poverty, with 3.55 million children living in them.
The number of households in extreme poverty in the US began to climb irreversibly after the Clinton administration ended cash welfare for vulnerable families in 1996. Over a dozen years, between 1996 and late 2008, the number and extent of extreme poverty roughly doubled, rising by more than 600,000 households. The increase continued after the recession of 2008, but the pace was now accelerated. Over roughly three years following the financial meltdown, 450,000 more families joined the ranks of the utterly destitute, with a sharp increase in numbers in the first six months of 2011.