I am interrupting my current series on North American church multiplication strategies to write this timely post. I just received the latest statistics from the U. S. census on poverty in the United States. Unfortunately, the news is not good.
The eighty-eight page report, titled, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009″ can be found HERE.
The following is excerpted and adapted from an email I received from the Census’ Public Information Office, dated today, and titled, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, A Summary of Key Findings.”
- Nation’s official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008
- There were 43.6 million people in poverty in 2009, up from 39.8 million in 2008
According to the email, the ”following results for the nation were compiled from information collected in the 2010 Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC)”:
- The poverty rate in 2009 was the highest since 1994, but was 8.1 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available.
- The number of people in poverty in 2009 is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates are available.
- In 2009, the family poverty rate and the number of families in poverty were 11.1 percent and 8.8 million, respectively, up from 10.3 percent and 8.1 million in 2008.
- The poverty rate and the number in poverty increased across all types of families: married-couple families (5.8 percent and 3.4 million in 2009 from 5.5 percent and 3.3 million in 2008); female-householder-with-no-husband-present families (29.9 percent and 4.4 million in 2009 from 28.7 percent and 4.2 million in 2008) and for male-householder-no-wife-present families (16.9 percent and 942,000 in 2009 from 13.8 percent and 723,000 in 2008).
- The poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites was lower in 2009 than it was for other racial groups. The poverty rate is not statistically different from the 2008 poverty rate for Asians, but increased for all other race groups and for Hispanics.
- The poverty rate increased for children younger than 18 (from 19.0 percent in 2008 to 20.7 percent in (2009) and people 18 to 64 (from 11.7 percent in 2008 to 12.9 percent in 2009), while it declined for people 65 and older (from 9.7 percent in 2008 to 8.9 percent in 2009).
- Similar to the patterns observed for the poverty rate in 2009, the number of people in poverty increased for
children younger than 18 (14.1 million in 2008 to 15.5 million in 2009) and people 18 to 64 (22.1 million in 2008 to 24.7 million in 2009) and declined for seniors 65 and older (from 3.7 million in 2008 to 3.4 million in 2009).
- The 2009 poverty rate for naturalized citizens was not statistically different from 2008, while the poverty rates of native-born and noncitizens increased.
- The poverty rate increased from 2008 to 2009 in the Midwest, South, and West while all four regions had increases in the number of people in poverty. (The 2009 poverty rate for the Northeast was not statistically different from its 2008 poverty rate.)
What do you think are the missiological implications from these numbers? How does such information influence your thinking about contextualization? How do these findings affect your church planting strategies? Do you think these statistics offer any insight into receptivity levels? What are your thoughts?
For more information, here are some of my resources at www.northamericanmissions.org:
“Poverty: Changing the Face of the American Suburbs” — a 2007 podcast to download
“On Mission and Poverty” — a 2008 podcast to download
“Poverty” — just a few links at northamericanmissions.org to connect you to some other resources