Every year, the U.S. Census comes out with its report on incomes and poverty. And every year the same finding repeatedly surprises me.
As economist David Henderson says, the report “always shows that there is mobility between income categories, even in the short run, and that poverty is temporary for most people in America who experience it. Virtually all reporters ignore it.”
First, the bad news. The report reveals that during the 4-year period from 2009 to 2012, more than one out of three Americans (34.5 percent) had at least one spell of poverty lasting 2 or more months.
But the good news is that few people stayed in poverty all four years. Chronic poverty from 2009 to 2012 was relatively uncommon, with 2.7 percent of the population living in poverty all 48 months.