Global poverty is a shocking concept. When you hear that more than half of the world survives on less than $2 a day, it can put a lot of things into perspective. North American poverty, by comparison, is predominantly better, but it is still a national concern. Here are 5 suggestions for solving the poverty issue.
There are lots of industries the government can focus on to create employment. Construction projects like repairing old bridges, building mass transit and converting to clean energy are a few ideas. The government can also invest more in social services that provide jobs, such as schools, child care and eldercare. Mass market housing construction also creates jobs in communities and lowers the overall housing costs, which frees up disposable income that can go back into the economy.
The current federal minimum wage in the US is $7.25/hour, which is $15,080/year before taxes. This rate has remained unchanged since 2009. By comparison, the federal poverty threshold for a family of three is $20,780. The Minimum Wage Fairness Act requested an increase to $10.10/hour in 2015, which would have meant an annual salary of $21,008 before taxes. The request was denied. Fortunately, there are separate minimum wage laws at the state-level, and 29 states pay higher than the federal rate. When people make enough money to avoid poverty and can have a decent standard of living, it’s called having a living wage. A radical idea called Universal Basic Income (UBI) would provide everyone on the planet with a monthly living wage, no matter who they are or what they do. This has naturally caused a lot of heated debates on both sides.
Another way to help financially struggling people is to build-up existing government programs like unemployment insurance, food stamps (SNAP), financial assistance, and the earned income tax credit (EITC). Paid family and medical leave would protect parents who take time off for personal reasons, such as having a baby or caring for a sick relative.
End Lengthy Imprisonment
The incarceration rate in the U.S. is the highest in the world, holding 22 percent of the world’s prisoners. Non-violent criminals who are kept in prison for lengthy periods of time are kept out of the workforce and away from their children, unable to help support their families. Once time is served, many reformed criminals find it nearly impossible to gain employment, and many parolees are denied housing, education and lines of credit which almost guarantees a return to prison.
Increase Child Care Quality and Availability
One in three families spends at least 20 percent of their annual household income on child care. Many parents need child care in order to work, but the cost is sometimes so great they end up not working at all. Center-based care now averages more than $10,000 a year, and a survey by care.com revealed that seven out of ten families can’t afford it. Having affordable, high-quality early child care helps form the building blocks children need in order to have a better education and higher-paying jobs.
Focus on Concentrated Poverty Areas
Concentrated poverty is a term used to describe neighborhoods with at least 40 percent of the population living below the federal poverty threshold. According to the US census, the concentrated poverty rate has more than doubled since 2000, despite an overall economic growth. To fix this problem, there are a number of resources Washington can employ, such as economic stimulus packages, to give cities better unemployment benefits and tax credits. This would sustain basic public services and provide assistance to struggling workers and their families. The money could also be used to fund training programs, which would give low-income residents a chance to find better-paying jobs.