Poverty has many faces. Many of those faces are getting younger.
In some respects, such as helping to lift the elderly from poverty, we have made much progress during the 50-year-old War on Poverty. Social Security and Medicare provide important safety nets for senior citizens.
But the percent of families with children in poverty has grown during the past 50 years, in large part because of the number of single parent homes. Our recent series on poverty in northeast Indiana offers a sobering picture of the struggles of all people in poverty, particularly the “working poor.” The stories also show that with determination and grit people can move forward. To review our April series focusing on poverty in northeast Indiana go to kpcnews.com/news/poverty.
Poverty relief efforts should focus on enabling people to help themselves. However, some people working 40 or more hours a week still can’t make it.
We applaud the churches, individuals and agencies that are helping people to better understand the difference between needs and “wants” and how to make their income cover their needs.
Although many people advocate an increase in the minimum wage to help the working poor, we believe a better approach is the Earned Income Tax Credit. Supporters point to studies that have found that the EITC encourages work, lifts more children out of poverty than any other program and encourages healthy eating.
According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (itep.org), more than half of the jobs created by the recovery since 2010 are low-paying, mostly in the food services, retail and employment services industries.
The EITC is based on salaries and wages, with limits. For example, for each dollar earned up to $13,650 in 2014, families with two children receive a tax credit equal to 40 percent of those earnings, up to a maximum credit of $5,460 (the maximum credit for families with three or more children is $6,143).