1. Press Release
  2. Economic Justice

Federal Aid Programs Prove Vital in Reducing U.S. Poverty

By Timothy McHugh, September 10, 2019

Washington, DC – Despite the continued reductions of poverty rate, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), is dismayed to see the number of people still living in poverty in the world’s richest country. According to today’s Census Bureau report, the official poverty rate decreased from 12.3 percent in 2017 to 11.8 percent in 2018. Approximately 38.1 million people lived below the poverty line in 2018 ($25,465 for a family of four).

Contact: Tim McHugh, Friends Committee on National Legislation, media@fcnl.org; 202-903-2515

The Census poverty numbers also demonstrate the importance of effective federal programs, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), in preventing people from falling into poverty. These refundable tax credits prevented 7.9 million people from falling into poverty.

“While this decrease in poverty is welcome news, millions of Americans are still not reaping the benefits of the booming economy and are unable to keep their heads above water,” said Diane Randall, executive secretary of FCNL. “Congress must work to fix the gaps in the EITC and CTC, where too many working individuals and families are left out of our most effective anti-poverty programs.”

Income growth among households with the lowest income levels was significantly slower than that of the country. Federal assistance programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit prove vital for families in this category.

Millions of low-income workers currently are not eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit or see only a minimal benefit because they are not raising children at home. Parents of 26 million kids are excluded from getting the full CTC because their incomes are too low.

“The data show that federal anti-poverty programs are essential; they are often the difference between putting food on the table or not for many American families,” said Amelia Kegan, FCNL’s legislative director for domestic policy. “Right now, as Congress considers important spending and tax decisions for federal programs, it has the opportunity to fix the gaps in the EITC and CTC to strengthen two of America’s most effective anti-poverty programs.”

The Census report also revealed that, for the first time since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the rate of uninsured individuals climbed. Though it remains far lower than it was before the passage of the bill, this increase in the number of people without health insurance demonstrates how state and federal actions undermining the Affordable Care Act and restricting access to Medicaid lead people to lose coverage.

As a Quaker organization, FCNL firmly advocates for eliminating poverty through economic policies that promote social equity and provide people with opportunities to live to their full potential.

To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.


Timothy McHugh

  • Director of Media Relations

Tim leads organizational efforts to communicate about issues, victories, priorities, and updates through all available news channels – specifically the major media outlets. He is responsible for providing FCNL staff with opportunities to convey our message – in print and through the airways – to the public and throughout the country. He keeps FCNL issues and staff on the collective radars of reporters and journalists nationwide. Lastly, he runs FCNL several media-focused social media channels.