This year marks the 50th anniversary of the federal government's "war on poverty," and several reports have addressed whether the United States has gained any ground.
Last week, the House Budget Committee released "The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later." In that report, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House Budget Committee Chairman, stated the following about the number of people who lived in poverty:
"Over the past three years, ‘deep poverty’ has reached its highest level on record."
First, a definition: "Deep poverty" refers to Americans living at or below 50 percent of the federal poverty line.
Kliegman says Ryan's claim matches up with the numbers available.
"We found Census Bureau data that tracks poverty going back to 1975," said said. "We found that for the three most recent years we have data for, which is 2009 through 2012, those three years have the highest percentage of Americans who are living in deep poverty."
Kliegman says the current percentage of Americans living in "deep poverty" is around 6.6 percent and notes that there is no information available before 1975.
PolitiFact rates Rep. Paul Ryan's claim as TRUE.
SOURCES: HIGHEST LEVELS OF "DEEP POVERTY"
- PolitiFact ruling
- House Budget Committee, "The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later," March 3, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "Table 5: Percent of People by Ratio of Income to Poverty Level," accessed March 3, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "Table 2. Poverty Status of People by Family Relationship, Race, and Hispanic Origin," accessed March 3, 2014
- Families USA, "2014 Federal Poverty Guidelines," accessed March 3, 2014
- Washington Post, "Read: Paul Ryan’s Critique of the ‘War on Poverty,’" March 3, 2014
- Email interview with Conor Sweeney, spokesman for the House Budget Committee, March 3, 2014