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Povertyin America: One Nation, Pulling Apart

The Atlas on Poverty in America

Atlas of Poverty in America, page viii The Atlas on Poverty in America provides an historical and contemporary account of economic opportunity in the United States. A decade of strong national economic growth in the 1990s left many of America's communities falling far behind median national measures of economic health. The topics displayed in the Atlas were selected based on many factors, most importantly the historical record of poverty in America and the lived experience of being poor in our nation today. A central theme is the enduring character of poverty in America, consistently effecting groups of individuals and places over time. A key message of this Atlas is that America's poor are people who work or who are Atlas of Poverty in America, page 1 dependents of people who work and face limited opportunity, often due to living in places that are seriously disadvantaged because of geography or history or both. The story also is one about public policy and the extent to which public intervention has been sufficient to ensure that all persons in this country have an equal chance to achieve their highest potential.

This Atlas is based on a group of ideas about economic well-being in America. We use the terms poverty, being poor, economic insecurity, low-wage work, working poor, and unable to make ends meet to reflect a state or condition of being in which an individual, an age cohort, or a group in society lacks the ability to enjoy life due to lack of access to basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, health care, and essential requirements for a successful work life such as a decent education and access to a vehicle. In this Atlas being poor or in poverty means that you receive or earn insufficient income to pay for necessities of daily living. Here we define poverty as understood in America based on two frameworks-poverty thresholds and poverty guidelines.

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