Why the poverty rate isn’t 28.6 percent in one chart


The official poverty rate is 15.1 percent. That’s the highest it’s been in two decades. But perhaps the wonder is that, amidst the worst economy since the Great Depression, poverty isn’t vastly higher than it was in 1993.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, there’s a reason for that: The safety-net, stronger now than it was in 1993, and further strengthened by the stimulus, is working. Without it, the poverty rate would be more than 28 percent. The bulk of the protection came from the pre-stimulus safety net, but the new additions, CBPP estimates, cut the poverty rate by a further 2.3 percent.

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