Spotlight Exclusives

1.5 Million More Poor People? And A Chance to Do Something

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Anti-poverty advocates should note this week۪s AP story in which Becky Blank, undersecretary of economic affairs at the Commerce Department, makes what we believe is one of the first Obama Administration estimates on the growth in poverty during the past year. Speaking in advance of next month’s closely watched release of the 2008 Census poverty data, Blank, who was formerly a member of the Spotlight Board of Advisors, said that while the numbers are not yet final, they will likely show a “statistically significant” increase in the poverty rate to at least 12.7 percent. That translates into 1.5 million more poor people. Key other elements from the interview with Blank:

  • The number of Americans without medical insurance is also expected to increase due largely to rising unemployment and the erosion of private coverage paid for by employers and individuals. Blank declined to say by how much
  • Blank noted that the upcoming Census poverty data could understate the actual number of poor people, since “the poverty rate is a lagging indicator that tends to accelerate over time. As a result, the 2008 data could prove to be the tip of the iceberg, with more significant declines reflected in 2009 figures released next year.”
  • The AP piece pointed out that earlier this year Blank estimated that poverty could eventually hit 14.8 percent or more if unemployment climbed to 10 percent.

For those of you who want to add your voice to the discussion on growing poverty in America, Spotlight is coordinating a campaign on to raise awareness about the release of the Current Population Survey poverty data on September 10th. Stay tuned to for more details in the coming days or email if you would like more information.

Posted by Mike and Shelley


Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn۪t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and its impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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