Michigan families grapple with lower incomes, more poverty
Sunday, September 14, 2008

Census release shows more are without health insurance
Michigan’s families continued to struggle with falling wages and rising poverty in 2007 as income fell sharply below the national median income and the poverty rate jumped, according to Census Bureau data released today.
Nearly one in every five children in the state lived in poverty, as child poverty rose from 17.8 percent in 2006 to 19 percent in 2007. That’s above the national rate of 17.6 percent.
“We know that many families are struggling harder and harder just to get by, and more vulnerable people are turning to public services for help,’’ said Michigan League for Human Services President and CEO Sharon Parks.
Michigan bucked the national trend of small improvements in wages and poverty. The Michigan median annual household income fell a little more than 1 percent between 2006 and 2007 in inflation-adjusted dollars.  The median household income in the state last year was $47,950, more than 5 percent below the national median household income of $50,740.
In addition, the Michigan total poverty rate worsened to 14 percent, compared with a national poverty rate of 13 percent. That’s up sharply from 2000, when Michigan’s poverty rate stood at just over 10 percent and the nation’s rate was 12.2 percent.
"Increased poverty in our state and local communities constitutes a profound moral failure," said Sister Monica Kostielney, President and CEO of the Michigan Catholic Conference.  "Families are finding it more and more difficult to keep up while the cost of daily necessities such as food, energy and gasoline continue to rise."
The percent of Michiganians without health insurance increased, but Michigan still ranked 11th-best in the country in providing health insurance. Michigan averaged 11 percent of the population without health insurance in 2006-2007, compared with a national average of 15.5 percent without health insurance.
Advocates for vulnerable Michigan residents said the data show why lawmakers should strengthen the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which went into effect for the 2008 tax year, and increase child care subsidies as a way to aid working poor families.
For families depending on the Family Independence Program, the state’s public assistance program, the monthly grant has been frozen for 18 years and needs to be adjusted for inflation. A small increase is scheduled for Oct. 1.
At a federal level, a second economic stimulus bill should be enacted and should include additional energy assistance for low-income families and extension of jobless benefits.
Source: The Michigan League for Human Services


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