Poverty in the U.S. is an annual $12,880 or below for a single person, $17,420 for two people, $21,960 for three, and $26,500 for a family of four. These are 2021 figures. So when you ‘lift someone out of poverty’ what does that actually mean?
I understand that researchers need to have some bar from which they measure under/over in order to define success. And I also understand that the United States needs some sort of figure to assess how much financial aid someone may need (although why it has to be the same all over the United States I will never understand).
But you can’t tell me that if you live in New York City for example, that you can live on even 200% of the poverty level and pay for rent, food, transportation, utilities, healthcare and anything else you or your family might need.
So I worry when we say $15/hour will ‘lift 60 million people out of poverty’. No. Not really. Certainly not people living in the big cities. I am pro increasing the minimum wage, don’t get me wrong. I’d like to increase it more than $15/hour. And sure, $15/hour will make things better. But no, it won’t lift everyone out of real poverty. It will only lift them above the poverty line – an arbitrary and very low measure. Depending on where someone lives, they might be able to live on it. But the average person living in NYC and other expensive cities will still require some government benefits to help them out. But will they receive that help if they are ‘lifted out of poverty”?