Congress Must Act to Help More Than 45 Million Americans Still Struggling

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement in response to newly reported U.S. poverty rates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“It is encouraging to see the U.S. poverty rate slightly decline for the first time since 2006, from 15 percent to 14.5 percent. However, the fact remains that too many Americans are still struggling; more than 45 million Americans are still living in poverty.

Tragically, the poverty rate for African Americans has not declined from a staggering 27.2 percent. A slight reduction occurred in the poverty rates of Latino and Asian Americans, but it is clear that poverty remains far from color-blind.

As chair of the Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity, co-chair of the Out of Poverty Caucus and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus Task Force on Poverty and the Economy, I believe that we can end poverty in America.

My Pathways Out of Poverty Act (H.R. 5352) starts by creating good-paying jobs that will lift families out of poverty and into the middle class, while strengthening our proven social safety net programs for those in need of a bridge over troubled water. It also calls for an inter-agency task force to create a national strategy for halving poverty in ten years.

More than 45 million Americans struggle with poverty every day; they deserve congressional action to create jobs with a living wage, strengthen the social safety, and ultimately eradicate poverty.”

Notes: The poverty rate is calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau. Data is collected by the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements (CPS ASEC).

Demographic Group

2013 Poverty Rate

2012 Poverty Rate

YOY Rate Difference

All Americans




White Americans




African Americans




Hispanic Americans




Asian Americans





Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of both the Congressional Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the newly formed Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.