A strong economy is one that works for everyone, including young and experienced workers, children and families, lower-wage and high-wage earners. Over the past year, the Massachusetts economy has continued to grow and the median income has inched upward, but despite these gains the statewide poverty rate remains stubbornly high and wages are still lower than they were in 2007, before the “Great Recession.”
Historically, within a year or two of the end of a recession, the national poverty rate has begun to decline. But that hasn’t held true for the two recessions we’ve had since 2000—not for the U.S. and not for Massachusetts. Today, nearly four years after the end of the “Great Recession,” our statewide poverty rate is 11.9%, which is substantially higher than it was in 2007, but still lower than the national rate.
Over 1 in every 7 children across the state is currently living in poverty. Child poverty can have a substantial impact on kids’ long-term growth and future opportunities. Research on economic mobility has found that children exposed to many years of poverty are far more likely to be poor as adults. As is the case with the overall poverty rate, child poverty in Massachusetts is lower than the U.S. as a whole, but still significantly higher than it was pre-recession.
Addressing the challenges of poverty could involve a range of different investments and interventions:
- New research has found that higher minimum wages can help reduce the number of people in poverty.
- Expanding access to early education and care could both empower kids and allow parents to seek and keep jobs.
- At the federal level, additional economic stimulus could help improve the job market and put upward pressure on wages.
- Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) could boost the incomes of low-income workers. Children in families that earn the EITC have been shown to do better in school, attend college at higher rates, and earn more as adults.
In addition to covering issues of poverty, the various sections of The State of Working Massachusetts discuss the jobs situation in our state, wages, income, and the important role education plays in all of these. We invite you to read more about any of these areas, and to check periodically as materials get updated.
Read more about The State of Working Massachusetts.