Recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will face cuts to their food budget this November when the temporary boost provided by the 2009 Recovery Act ends. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, that loss translates to $29/month for a family of three and brings the average benefit per person per meal to less than $1.40 in 2014. In Arizona, where the share of residents receiving SNAP benefits has climbed from 5% in 2000 to 17% in 2012, these cuts will impact over 1.1 million people. For families that are already living on the edge, these cuts are expected to have a deep impact. View more Arizona-specific data here.
Featured Indicators Data
Text: A new study by a team of top economists reveals some harsh truths about income mobility in the U.S. One key finding is the role that location plays in the likelihood that a child will rise to a higher income level in adulthood. For metropolitan Phoenix, the chance that a child raised in the bottom fifth will attain top fifth status is 7.8%. These odds are slightly below a child raised in Denver, Las Vegas or Houston, and well below Los Angeles (9.6) and Salt Lake (11.5). The South is plagued with the worst income mobility, including major metros like Atlanta (4%). Interestingly, location specific factors like tax credits for the poor, higher taxes for top earners, and the number of local colleges and their tuition rates had no major effect on income mobility. One factor that did matter was the degree to which poor families were distributed across mixed-income neighborhoods. Areas with better K-12 schools, higher civic engagement and more two-parent families also fared better. Overall, the study shows that income mobility falls short of the American Dream mantra and that where you grow up matters.
According to the 2013 Kids Count report, Arizona's children have lost ground on a number of key indicators including poverty (27%), percentage of low-birth weight babies (7.1%), and the number of children in single-parent families (40%). The story is concerning even when you look at metrics where Arizona has improved, like the share of children not attending preschool (67%), since Arizona's position is far worse than the national average (54%). Similarly, the number of uninsured children in Arizona dropped from 16% in 2008 to 13% in 2011, but nationally that figure is just 7%. There is much work to be done to ensure that Arizona's children have their basic needs met and that they start on a level playing field with their peers nationally.
In his address at the The Arizona Leadership Forum in Phoenix on Feb. 8, Arizona Community Foundation President & CEO Steven G. Seleznow makes the counter-intuitive case that the Arizona we now have essentially is the Arizona that the state’s powerful leadership wanted, even though the end result was many residents, schools, businesses and social agencies suffering. According to Seleznow, “I tried to make the point throughout my ‘confrontation with the data,’ that our decisions and options as a state were not the function of the 2008 recession at all, but the result of a powerful set of choices made by the state’s leadership beginning around 1980 and continuing since to drive down investment in those areas that would have supported economic growth, reduced income inequality, and developed the state’s human capital,” Seleznow recalled.
According to the 2013 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, more Americans are at risk of financial crisis than many of us realize. These are the "liquid asset poor," or those who lack the savings to cover basic expenses for three months if unemployment, a medical emergency or other crisis leads to a loss of stable income. In Arizona, 45% of households live in liquid asset poverty and 61% of Arizona consumers have subprime credit. Additionally, 52% of renters in Arizona are "cost-burdened," meaning they spend more than 30% of household income on rent and utilities.
Check out this compelling data visualization, created by David McCandless for Information is Beautiful. It offers an interesting perspective on costs and money flows ranging from U.S. foreign debt and military spending to health care costs, the "war on drugs," and total charitable donations by the U.S. public. McCandless explains his creative motivation in the following blog post, "With news of $billion-dollar tax evasions joining $billion-dollar bailouts and $trillion dollar deficits in the mind-boggled group mind, we thought it might be a good time to update the Billion Dollar-o-Gram."
AZ Youth Face Tough Odds
According to the 2013 Kids Count Data Book, Arizona still compares unfavorably on key indicators of child well-being, ranking 4th worst overall.
Losing ground since 2005:
- Children in poverty (27%)
- Children living in households with high housing cost burden (41%)
- Children in single-parent families (40%)
Making progress since 2005:
- Teen births per 1,000 (42)
- Children without health insurance (13%)
- High school students not graduating on time (25%)
Brookings Mountain West
Morrison Institute for Public Policy and Brookings Institution are now partners in Brookings Mountain West, a collaboration of Brookings Institution and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas that conducts research on economic growth, demographic change, infrastructure improvement, environmental impact, alternative energy, and real estate investment in the Intermountain West. Check out the latest output from Mountain Monitor.
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Check out Population Basics, an interactive tool that allows you to explore demographic data about Arizona, our 15 counties, and metro Phoenix and Tucson. If you prefer raw data, explore the demographics section of our Google Spreadsheets collection: