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Good Question: Why Can’t We Win The War On Poverty?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Poverty is growing faster in Twin Cities suburbs than in most areas of the country, according to a recent report.

“It certainly is astounding how much poverty grew in the suburbs,” said Paul Mattessich, the executive director of Wilder Research, who’s been watching poverty for years in the Twin Cities.

In 2000, there were 95,000 suburbanites below the poverty line. By 2011, there were 205,000.

That’s about 1 in 12 suburban residents in poverty.

Is it possible to win the war on poverty?

“I would say yes, largely,” Mattessich said.

For an individual, the poverty line is marked at $11,484 a year. For a family of four, it’s $23,02 a year.

In 1965, about 15 percent of people were below the poverty line. Since then it’s moved up and down, but it’s always in that 12 to 15 percent range.

“It comes down to having enough jobs,” Mattessich said. “There is no inherent reason why a certain portion of the population must live in poverty.”

Some researchers think we are winning the war on poverty.

People at all income levels are consuming more, which means that programs like food stamps and the earned income tax credit are making a difference.

With more manufacturing jobs going overseas, they argue, poverty should be even worse.

The future, they say, is about education.

The suburban jump in poverty is eye-opening. But Wilder Research wants you to remember that there is still much more poverty in the cities.

One in four people in Minneapolis and St. Paul lives below the poverty line.

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