POVERTY RATE INCREASING IN WV - Sad News For State's Children, Face Of Joblessness And Poverty



COMMENT By Bob Weaver

If you think the collapse of the nation's money markets and banking system is not serious, you should reconsider.

If your view of the American economy is shaped by TV news, you should more than reconsider.

We're talking about what's happening to real people, like your next door neighbor.

One in four West Virginians is expected to fall into poverty during the current recession, says the WV Center on Budget and Policy.

Worse yet, the number of WV children living in poverty is predicted to increase by more than a third.

The recession, according to the study, is propelling an increase in the number of children living below the poverty line by more than a third, to 34 percent.

The U.S. Census Bureau released data showing that 13.2 percent of Americans lived in poverty in 2008.

West Virginia far exceeds the averages>

Economists define the poverty line as a household income of $21,910 or less for a family of four.

West Virginia was statistically almost at the bottom with low income and poverty before the national collapse happened.

"The annual poverty rates released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau won't reflect the dramatic downturn of West Virginia's economy since the beginning of this year," said Paul Miller, a policy analyst at the Center.

Numerous studies have shown the detrimental effects of long-term poverty on children, including health problems, lower educational achievement, social and emotional difficulties, and lower wages as adults.

"The worst is still on the horizon for West Virginia's children," said Miller.

Applications for public assistance are also growing at a staggering rate as more West Virginians turn to programs like the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

Between November 2008 and June 2009, food-stamp caseloads grew 20 percent.