Wouldn’t you know that longtime Poverty Lobbyist Aiko Schaefer of the Washington State Budget and Policy Center (not to be confused with Jason Mercier, who is her polar opposite at the Washington Policy Center) would go out with one more news release that highlights her and her organization’s cause.
Schaefer, after 13 years, will leave the ranks of the legislative Poverty Lobby to join the ranks of the equally poorly paid part-time faculty. She’ll teach a class at the University of Washington. Tomorrow is her last day of formal poverty.
New Census Data Shows 1 in 10 Washingtonians Living in Poverty: Full Impact of Recession Not Reflected in Data
Seattle – More than 11 percent of Washingtonians lived in poverty in 2008 according to new numbers issued by the Census Bureau today. And nearly 14 percent of children in Washington lived in poverty last year. While not a significant increase from the previous year, the 2008 data does not capture the full impact of the recession.
“The 2008 figures are grim and it is likely 2009 will be worse because the recession deepened and unemployment rose,” said Remy Trupin, Executive Director of the Washington State Budget & Policy Center. “But the expected increases in poverty for 2009 could be a little less because of the federal economic recovery package.”
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included significant fiscal
aid to Washington State helping to partially offset state cuts in health care, education, public safety, and economic security.
The Census Bureau data shows that in 2008:
• 11.3 percent of Washingtonians had incomes at or below the federal poverty line. However, the poverty rate varied significantly throughout Washington, ranging from 7.9 percent in Snohomish County to 20.5 percent in Franklin County.
• 217,000 (14.3 percent) children in Washington State lived in poverty.
• African American, Hispanic, and Native American communities all saw poverty rates in excess of 20 percent. Asian and White communities were significantly less likely to be living in poverty compared to the state average, experiencing poverty rates of 9.2 and 9.9 percent.
“Today’s numbers are a reminder that poverty affects a substantial share of Washington individuals, families, and children, even before the worst part of the recession hit,” said Lori Pfingst, Assistant Director, Washington Kids Count. “We are leaving far too many people in our state vulnerable to
declining economic conditions which will take a significant toll on our children, our communities and the state.”
Despite signs of economic recovery, the labor market will not fully recover for years to come and states across the nation face budget shortfalls into fiscal years 2011 and 2012. Washington state policymakers will continue to face tough decisions about how to balance the state’s budget as midyear
gaps emerge and as federal recovery dollars run out.
“The data released today are an alarm bell. This year, lawmakers cut deeply into programs that help mitigate the terrible effects of poverty on children and families. We cannot afford additional budget cuts on top of the deep cuts made in the current budget. We need to make sure that programs such as school meals, ECEAP, and Apple Health for Kids are there to support children and families through these tough times.
In the short term, that means defeating Initiative 1033, which would lock in drastic cuts to education, health care and other programs, making it impossible to respond to the growing need,” said Jon Gould, Deputy Director of the Children’s Alliance.
The numbers released today are part of the American Community Survey conducted by the US Census Bureau. This annual survey provides a view of how communities are changing over time.