The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that the national poverty rate fell from 15.0 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent in 2013 - the first time the rate has fallen in eight years. The poverty rate for children under 18 also declined in 2013 for the first time since 2000 - from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013.

Researchers at the Center for American Progress estimate that hunger costs the U.S. at least $167.5 billion every year based on a combination of lost economic productivity, increased education expenses, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity. 

Food insecurity – the lack of consistent access to adequate food – affects millions of children and adults every year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Almost 15 percent of all households in 2013 were food insecure, or 49.1 million Americans. On average, from 2003-2011, around one in ten households that include children were food insecure, ranging from a low of 5.1 percent in New Hampshire to a high of 12.8 percent in Texas.

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Mirroring a national trend, many more people in the Midwest are living in concentrated areas of poverty — a demographic trend that carries with it implications related to everything from crime and health, to economic and educational opportunity.
Since President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty in 1964, the rate of young children in poverty has only slightly decreased.
“It is the case that children are more often poor...

Among the world's 35 richest countries, the U.S. ranks second highest in the rate of childhood poverty. Achievement gaps between the poor and the non-poor are twice as large as the achievement gap between black and white students. And cognitive differences--which vary extensively by income and poverty status--likely contribute to a young adult's accessibility to and success in college, further limiting economic and social mobility and fueling the gap between rich and poor. This webinar, presented by CSG's State Pathways to Prosperity Initiative, showcased ways state policymakers can utilize their role to reduce the impact of child poverty on educational success.

If state leaders want to know the effects of programs aimed at helping the poor, they can find the answers in alternative poverty measures. “States want to know what’s going on with the programs they are using to fight poverty and how well are they doing,” Timothy Smeeding, director of the Institute for Research on Poverty and professor of public affairs and economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said during a CSG webinar.

Few changes have been made to the official federal poverty measure since it was adopted in 1969 despite growing concern over its accuracy and usefulness. To address these concerns, both governmental and nongovernmental organizations have developed alternative ways of measuring poverty.

The U.S. Census Bureau uses the federal poverty threshold to determine the poverty rate and count the number of people in poverty each year. That threshold, which has been calculated the same way for nearly 50 years, is often criticized for being outdated and inaccurate. 

<--break->The Economic Policy Institute offers an alternative measure of the income needed to afford an adequate standard of living. The...

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will propose new rules this Thursday that will give states the capacity to investigate food stamp recipients who seek replacement benefit cards more than three times a year. The new rules will also allow states to demand formal explanations from recipients who say they’ve lost their cards. In total, food stamp fraud costs American taxpayers around $750 million a year, equal to about 1 percent of the USDA’s total budget for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The majority of fraud occurs when retailers allow customers to turn in their benefits cards for lesser amounts of cash. But USDA officials are also concerned about people selling or trading cards in the open market, including on the internet.

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