Extreme poverty in US has more than doubled since 1996

A policy brief recently issued by the National Poverty Center (NPC) reveals that the number of households in the US living on less than $2 a day per person has increased by 130 percent since 1996, from 636,000 to some 1.46 million today.

This means that some 4 million people in “the richest country on earth” (according to US capitalism’s apologists) are surviving on less than $60 a month each, i.e., essentially on no income whatsoever.

The policy brief, authored by H. Luke Shaefer, University of Michigan, School of Social Work, and Kathryn Edin, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, studies the results of the fifteen years since the 1996 “welfare reform” signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which fatally slashed the social safety net.

“This reform,” the authors comment, “has been followed by a dramatic decline in cash assistance caseloads, from an average of 12.3 million recipients per month in 1996 to 4.4 million in June 2011; only 1.1 million of these beneficiaries are adults.