Ending Hunger in America, 2014 Hunger Report Introduction - Page 10

INTRODUCTION 1 percent. It wasn’t always this way, as we see in Figure i.6. From the end of World War II until about the middle of the 1970s, hourly compensation (wages and benefits) rose at the same rate as productivity growth. Income inequality—a subject we’ve been hearing so much about in recent years, and we will say more about later in the report—is basically a story about the divergence of wages from productivity growth. A Stronger Safety Net Safety net programs help protect people from the hardships associated with poverty, such as hunger, homelessness, and debilitating medical probFigure i.7 Poverty Rate Would Have Been Nearly Twice as High lems. Programs are means-tested, in 2011 Without Safety Net so participants are required to have little or no income, and Counting no government assistance (before taxes) are sometimes required to drain nearly all of their savings, before Counting only Social Security they can qualify. These are often Counting Social Security and all other government assistance (after taxes) people who cannot work or are limited in how much they can work because of old age, poor All Ages health, or a disability. Children 29.0% and adults in families where the 21.6% breadwinner is unemployed or 16.1% doesn’t earn enough to meet basic living expenses qualify for safety net programs. Full-time Ages 18-64 students in postsecondary educa23.2% tion programs may rely on safety 19.7% net programs to see them and 15.6% their children through extended periods when they can’t earn sufUnder 18 ficient income. 29.9% In 2011, the combined federal 28.3% safety net programs lifted a total of 40 million people above the 18.2% poverty line, including almost 9 million children.26 Social Security Source: Arloc Sherman, Danilo Trisi, and Sharon Parrott (July 30, 2013), “Various Supports for Low-Income Families Reduce Poverty and Have Long-Term Positive Effects on Families and did most of the work, pulling 21.4 Children,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. CBPP analysis of