Unemployment, poverty, and uninsured rates are rising – bleak outlook for the working poor

A story in Tribune Newspapers today revealed poverty, income, unemployment, and health care statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, all of which paint a dreary portrait for millions of needy Americans. This story hits close to home today as an Orlando Sentinel report announced the closure of an organization that serves the needs of many low-income Central Floridians.

The U.S. Census Bureau released statistics that allow us to peek into the past year, observing from the numbers how the recession affected Americans in 2008. The quote below, taken from the Tribune story, summarizes the torrent of cheerless information:

“The government’s first broad look at the recession’s impact on American households in 2008 showed that the nation’s poverty rate jumped to an 11-year high, incomes sank for most every group, and the number of people without health insurance rose to 46.3 million…Analysts said they expect the official poverty rate, which rose to 13.2 percent from 12.5 percent in 2007, to keep climbing this year and next, reversing gains made in the 1990s.”

The current jobless rates don’t look so good, either:

The national unemployment rate averaged 8.9% for the past year, compared with only 5.8% in 2008, according to Tribune Newspapers. On a state level, Florida’s jobless rate hovered at 10.7% for the months of June and July.

With mounting poverty and unemployment rates, plummeting incomes, and escalating numbers of uninsured Americans, it is no wonder the Census Bureau anticipates 2009 to leave behind equally harsh statistics.

We aren’t telling you these statistics to dampen your weekend enthusiasm, but we do want to acknowledge that in light of historically tough times, all possible assistance is needed for those on the brink of hopelessness, such as the working poor, who may be housed but still lack the resources to make ends meet.

Today’s Orlando Sentinel announced the upcoming closure of Destiny Foundation of Central Florida, a nonprofit that offers food, medical care, clothing, and emergency assistance to thousands of the area’s working poor. The shuttering of this innovative organization will certainly leave a gap in the patchwork of services for the low income in our community. Destiny Foundation has been essential in helping this population return to self-sufficiency, and many worry that these needy neighbors will now go unserved. We have lost a partner in the effort to return individuals to independence by offering a “hand up” rather than a “handout” and, along with the thousands Destiny Foundation serves, we mourn their closing.

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