(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Census Bureau announced that the U.S. poverty rate rose for the first time in eight years and household income fell last year, which coincided with the first recession in a decade.
There were 32.9 million Americans (11.7 percent) living in poverty last year, up from 31.6 million (11.3 percent) in 2000. The median household income in 2001 declined 2.2 percent from $42,228.
Sen. Murray issued the following statement:
"Today's announcement from the Census Bureau confirms what too many families in Washington state already know: the economy is slumping and Americans at the bottom are feeling the brunt of the current recession.
A whole host of economic indicators illustrate the stunning economic turnaround in this country since the beginning of 2001. The stock market has lost $4.5 trillion in wealth and Americans have seen retirement savings and pension plans decline by billions. Two million more people are out of work and long-term unemployment has more than doubled over the same period.
In Washington, tens of thousands of workers have lost their jobs, and are beginning to exhaust their unemployment benefits.
While we can disagree about long-term economic plans, there are several steps that can provide immediate relief
First, Congress can extend unemployment insurance and disaster unemployment assistance, each for an additional 13 weeks. With more people losing their benefits every day, these extensions have to be passed before Congress adjourns.
Second, Congress can pass its 13 appropriations bills, which will provide increased funding for health care and education, as well as thousands of jobs in transportation, Hanford cleanup, construction, border patrol, and elsewhere.
Third, Congress can pass a pension protection bill that restores confidence in the retirement security of America's workers.
While we all agree that homeland security is imperative, we must also work to improve America's economic security."