chapter  3
The American Poor
Pages 30

Over the last four decades, despite massive expenditures by federal and state governments, poverty rates have fluctuated, but have remained stubbornly high. As Figure 3.1 shows, despite three recessions, the rate of poverty declined significantly during the 1960s and 1970s. Unfortunately, even with substantial inflation-adjusted increases in welfare spending, the trend in poverty reduction did not continue. By the early 1980s the rate of poverty was increasing. Poverty declined modestly after the early 1980s, but then increased quite dramatically in the early 1990s. Poverty rates declined from 1994 through 2000, only to increase in 2001, 2002, and 2003. In 2003 there were 4.3 million more poor people than in 2000. The poverty rate in 2003 was 12.5 percent, a rate higher than in most years in the 1970s. Making significant progress against poverty has clearly been an elusive goal.