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April 2012 Volume 18 Number 2
The rural population increased between 2000 and 2010, but at a slower rate than the metro population, so that rural areas included only 16 percent of US residents. According to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, half of those volunteering for US military service are from rural America.<< back
The share of Americans in households with incomes below the federal poverty line fell from 22 percent in 1959 to 11 percent in 1973; the poverty rate was 15 percent in 2010.
Michael Harrington's book, The Other America: Poverty in the United States, was published in 1962. It reported that almost a third of Americans lived "below those standards which we have been taught to regard as the decent minimums for food, housing, clothing and health." The January 19, 1963 New Yorker carried an extensive review of the book, and President Kennedy said that he wanted reducing poverty to be a major domestic priority.
After taking office in 1963, President Johnson made reducing poverty his major domestic priority, and made Sargent Shriver head of the new Office of Economic Opportunity. Many of Johnson's advisors wanted to create government jobs to put the poor to work, but with a budget of less than $1 billion a year, Shriver advocated programs that would reduce poverty over time, including preschool education and funding community action agencies and legal services.
Welfare. California has a third of US welfare recipients and an eighth of US residents, some 587,400 cases in 2011-12, including 304,100 cases where the adult recipient has exhausted the time for receiving cash payments or is not working at least 30 hours a week (these cases also include payments to children whose parents do not qualify for cash aid).
The state spends $1.2 billion a year on the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program. Federal and local funds provide another $4.3 billion.
One reason for the large share of welfare recipients is that California does not end cash benefits after two years without work, as many other states do. CalWORKs cash benefits for adults who do not work or study were reduced from five to four years in 2009 and the cash payment for a family of three was cut to $638 a month in 2010. To encourage work, California may ignore the first $225 in earned income each month, up from the current $112 a month.