Extreme Poverty in America

Nearly 1.5 Million American Households Have Practically No Income


By the end of 2015, just under 10 percent of the global population will be living in extreme poverty, surviving on an average of just $1.90 per day. According to a PBS report, there has been progress in the reduction of poverty in both East Asia and the Pacific, but a surprising number of people living on almost nothing actually live in one of the worlds largest economies: the United States.

Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shafer explain in their book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, a few reasons why nearly 1.5 million American households have practically no cash income. One reason this number has nearly doubled since 1996 is due to a major welfare reform bill that was passed that year. The reforms did encourage more people to join the workforce, but also left few options for those who didn’t find work. 

The authors also point to the degradation of U.S. jobs. According to Edin, full-time jobs are hard to come by and it can be hard to pair two part-time jobs because hours are always in fluctuation and wages tend to be low. 




Photo credit: two dollars : muni fare, san francisco (2013) via photopin (license)