Homelessness, joblessness and reliance of welfare...is the elusive American Dream out of reach for most Americans?
The Associated Press reports that four out of five U.S. adults will experience poverty at some point in their lives, be it through joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare, as the American economy continues to struggle and the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen.
Survey data suggests that an increasingly globalized economy and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs are just some of the factors responsible for increasing poverty, in addition to high unemployment rates that continue to linger following the recession.
The rate of impoverished Americans remains at a staggering 46.2 million, about 15 percent of the population, and it's not simply an issue of race, but of class.
"It's time that America comes to understand that many of the nation's biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position," William Julius Wilson, a Harvard professor who specializes in race and poverty, told the AP. "There is the real possibility that white alienation will increase if steps are not taken to highlight and address inequality on a broad front."
The AP reports that the predominant face of the poor is white Americans, sometimes termed the "invisible poor" by demographers. Impoverished whites are generally dispersed among suburban and rural areas, concentrated in the Appalachia in the East, numerous Midwestern industrial towns and across America's heartland, from Missouri up through the Great Plains.
In southwest Virginia's mostly-white Buchanan County, poverty hovers at 24 percent, with 99 percent of its poor white. Most of the impoverished in this county are working class people who lack college degrees, as higher education has long been a nonessential in a region where well-paying mining and other labor jobs were once plentiful. These days, most residents get ny on government paychecks and odd jobs.
"It's pretty hard," Renee Adams, 28, a mother of two who grew up in the region told the AP. "Once the bills are paid, we might have $10 to our name."
Despite increasing poverty among whites, minority groups still have a higher risk (about 90 percent) of experiencing economic insecurity.
"Poverty is no longer an issue of 'them', it's an issue of 'us'," Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers, told the AP. "Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need."
Widening income inequality has also increased in recent decades among people aged 35-55 in particular, meaning that the lifetime risk of economic insecurity runs even higher for 79 percent, or 4 in 5, of adults by the time they turn 60.
Also among the findings, the share of children living in high poverty neighborhoods (rates of 30 percent or higher) has increased to 1 in 10, putting them at greater risk of teen pregnancy or dropping out of school.
Click here to see photos from the Daily Mail of some of those struggling with poverty across the U.S., as well as more statistics from the AP's findings.