STATEMENT: With More Than 4 Million Texans In Poverty, Texas Must Commit To Investing in Education and Career Development

/, Economic Opportunity, Education, K-12 Public Education, KIDS COUNT/STATEMENT: With More Than 4 Million Texans In Poverty, Texas Must Commit To Investing in Education and Career Development

AUSTIN, TEXAS—The Center for Public Policy Priorities’ Frances Deviney, senior research associate and Texas KIDS COUNT director, made the following statement about today’s release of the American Community Survey:

“Today’s release of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows that nearly 4.56 million (17.9 percent) Texans live in poverty (e.g., $18,480 for a two parent, one child family). While Texas’ overall poverty rate declined slightly from 2011 (18.5 percent), we are still well above our 2008 pre-recession rate of 16.0 percent. 

“The poverty rate gives us a snapshot for the overall health of Texas, and we know living in poverty negatively impacts a young child’s brain and body development, leads to poorer health and education outcomes, and worse employment outcomes as adults. Fortunately, we can do something about it.

“We know that getting a job that pays well and having the ability to move up the economic ladder is the best antidote to Texans falling into or lingering in poverty. Unfortunately, Texas’ poverty rate is driven largely by the job opportunities available to people with little education after high school. In 2012, 69 percent of Texans age 25 and older who lived below the poverty line had a high school degree or less, the fifth highest percentage in the nation. 

“Even though Texas has relatively low unemployment, our workers are much more likely to be working in a job paying minimum wage or less compared to most other states. 

“Investing in primary and adult basic education is one of our most important strategies for reducing the poverty rate and keeping Texas’ economy strong. Unfortunately, our investment in public education and high school completion programs has declined significantly in recent years.

“Texas must also invest more in adult basic education and career development for low-skilled adults. Today, Texas invests an average of $5.78 per adult without a high school diploma/GED for adult basic education and literacy training, compared to $66.20 nationally. These programs are a critical first step to moving low-income Texans into careers that pay family-supporting wages.

“Poverty is not an insurmountable problem. We know what works; we’ve proven it before. 

“In the 1960s, 1 in 3 of our parents and grandparents lived in poverty during their golden years. We decided as a nation that this was unacceptable, so over time we amended the Social Security Act by creating Supplemental Security Income to further stabilize their finances and Medicare to improve health care access and moderating health expenses. Today, the poverty rate for Texans over 65 is down to nearly 1 in 9, or one-third of where it was more than forty years ago.

“It’s time for Texas and the U.S. to decide that our current poverty rates are unacceptable and commit to solutions that we know make a real difference.”

Follow us on Twitter at @CPPP_TX for more key trends from the new data!

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.


  • I did a project for my English class concerning poverty. I found that with only a high school education, it was very difficult to find an employer willing to hire me. It is unfortunate that those in poverty are often unable to acquire an education level higher than that provided by the state. If we give more education or training to impoverished adults, it would be much easier for them to find jobs that would help them climb out of the hole of poverty.
    In my project I had a specific salary to meet to be able to support myself. I had to meet twelve dollars an hour. This is just to support MYSELF; I had no children and no spouse to sustain. I spent three days searching for a job and once I did find a job that I actually could see myself doing, it either did not meet my intended salary or did not list any salary at all! I read many job applications throughout many classified sections and job listings and perhaps only twenty percent of them actually listed the salary and the fact that they were willing to take an entry level employee.
    Training impoverished adults would help not only the people themselves but also the economy. Training these adults and giving them the education they need to acquire higher paying jobs would give the state more workers with a higher degree of understanding than just that of a high school student or less. To train and educate these people would be most wise because it would make the employees feel proud of their knowledge and the state would know that its employees were well suited for the jobs that they are in. Although the poverty rates are down in Texas, they can be much lower. Educating and training adults to get them jobs would lower poverty rates even more. It would give families the means of supporting themselves and help those who wish to rise out of poverty the tools to do so.
    Most Americans understand that those in poverty cannot afford an education higher than a high school diploma. However, by not giving them higher paying jobs because they lack the education, are we not punishing them for their lack of income needed to get just that. It is a never ending cycle. They are unable to get an education because they are poor. They are unable to get a good job because they lack the education. Therefore, they are unable to get good jobs because they are poor. If we truly want to help those in poverty, we should give the impoverished the tools they need to make better lives for themselves. This is the solution.
    As Americans we want poverty to decrease tenfold. As Texans we know that giving those in poverty the education or training they need, will help us do just that.

    Betheny 07.10.2013
  • The state of Texas has one of the worst education problems in the United States. In her article “State legislators Release Grim Statistics On Texas Versus Other States” Carrie Feibel states that “Among the 50 states, Texas ranks last in the percent of the population that has graduated high school”. Without a high school diploma it is almost impossible for someone to live a successful life. We need to increase availability to education in order to increase our economy and decrease our poverty.
    I recently did a project over poverty for my high school English class. I had to find a job with a high school diploma and budget the money I made. It was difficult to manage my money to insure that I paid for all my expenses. I had to factor in transportation, gas, food, clothes, housing ect. The project gave me a glimpse into the troubles many impoverished people experience. They practically live paycheck to paycheck and have little means to advance themselves in their financial situations. It would be beneficial for Texas’ economy and individuals’ finances if the state would grant impoverish people educational opportunities. Carrie Feibel supports this claim in her statement “We can’t move forward and attract business with uneducated people”.
    Texas should look to Colorado’s education system as an example for its own. In his article “Report finds investment in education like Amendment 66 best way to boost workforce and state’s economy” Rich Jones tells of how in 1979 Colorado invested 950 million dollars in its education system. Later in 2012 Colorado rose to 5th highest in education standards. 39% of its population posses a bachelor’s degrees or higher. Also its workforce was ranked best in the 50th states according to efficiency and productivity. The benefits Colorado has reaped has exceeded the $950 million it originally invested. Texas needs to invest in education in order to improve its poverty and employee productivity.
    Poverty is an issue because it is a huge burden for individuals and is an anchor on society. It drags down a communities’ success and slows down productivity. Education is the answer to this problem. If the state would invest in the education of our people, they will enable us to better our futures and the future of our state.
    Nobody who works hard should be poor in America. When Texas has a higher educated workforce the workforce will be paid a higher salary and the state will benefit from the higher skilled tasks the new workforce will preform.

    Katy 07.10.2013
  • As a high school student I have observed that many students in on level classes underestimate the importance of education and truly believe that a high school diploma will get them far in life. After careful examination done an English project I found that it was shockingly difficult to provide for a family of 3 with high school as the highest education obtained. In my scenario in order to provide for my spouse and child I was forced to work 2 jobs to provide for my family. I discovered that it was not only difficult to find an employer who had high school education as their minimum requirement, but that these jobs paid substantially less than what which was necessary to realistically make a living for my family and myself. Most jobs fell into the $10 per hour category while I needed $24.5 per hour to cover all my family expenses. Through the course of a month I was left with only $132 to show for my efforts after having deducted all living expenses and taxes from my $3648 income.
    It’s a shame that many students currently enrolled in high school do not realize how crucial a higher education is to preventing poverty. With that said it is not okay to blame those that make up the general poverty population for their lack of education and assume that they are poor because they just didn’t care, many simply were not ever given the opportunity to receive it. This is exactly why training impoverished adults would not only be helpful but also beneficial. It’d give them a chance to reach for an opportunity they previously did not have available, while also benefitting the economy in return. Poverty would decrease while employment would increase, where is the downfall to that?
    Unfortunately Texas hasn’t done much in its efforts to invest in career development for low-skilled adults. While it’s impossible to say that all would participate, I’m sure many of those who make up our state poverty would take advantage of such programs if given the chance after having experienced what it is to be living paycheck to paycheck.
    The question is not can we afford it? If the nation as whole was capable of stabilizing financial and medical expenses for those over 65 in the 1960’s and lowering the poverty level from 1 out of 3 to 1 out of 9, then we as a state are undoubtedly capable of providing adult basic education and career development for low-skilled adults. The question is will anyone take a stand? Will this issue be brought to light, or will they continue to remain invisible in America?

    Diana L. 08.10.2013
  • Today, millions of people will come home, exhausted from work, stressed over bills, and unsure of how they will get by the rest of the month on the scarce amount of bills in their wallets. These people work long hours, only to get paid minimum wage, and sometimes even less, as they struggle to make ends meet each month. Although poverty is recognized as a major issue, there are very few willing to commit to solving it. With a whopping 4.65 million people suffering these circumstances, shouldn’t it be considered one of our top priorities?
    Since growing up in an impoverished household is very difficult on children, some tend to develop problems, some mental, physical, or behavioral. When children don’t get the attention they need at home, they act out at school, causing them to get into trouble, making school a drag to attend every day. For this reason, High School completion programs can be very important and extremely beneficial. Putting more stress and emphasis on education is a very large step in the right direction.
    That being said, we now have to consider the fact that having a higher education/college degree is the key to getting a well-paying job in today’s modern day and age. When searching the internet, classifieds and other job listing sites, it is obvious that having a High School diploma or equivalent is simply not enough. Employers that do hire at entry level experience with no degree required are most likely to pay minimum wage or slightly above it. Minimum wage is barely enough to support a single person with a well planned out budget, much less a whole family.
    Although this may be true, we must recognize that giving everyone a higher education may not be the easiest or most beneficial solution. Many would be better off if offered skills training for specific professions. Being a skilled worker leads to better/more production for the company and if nothing else, a confidence boosts for the workers. The poor tend to have low self esteems, since they feel that they cannot work their way out of poverty, regardless of how hard they try. By giving them a confidence boost, they are more likely to go out and apply for higher up positions that push them to succeed. The main thing holding us back at this point, is underfunding. If more awareness were to be raised on how eliminating poverty can be achieved, many would be willing to support the cause to get things changed.
    If we want the Texas economy to get any better, we must take into consideration all the aspects of poverty and its causes. Once the possible solutions and their probable outcomes are understood, the positive change that can happen will have a tremendous impact. It’s time Texans took matters into their own hands and started working towards a better, poverty-free tomorrow.

    Brooke 08.10.2013
  • Through my individual research, I have also found that investments in education and career development are essential. Instilling proper studying habits and motivating Texas students to strive for a higher level of education will help them prosper. Children who are financially disadvantaged should be informed of strategies that will allow them to overcome poverty. Another important factor that could reduce poverty is developing programs that would enhance the skills of the working poor. Establishing proficiencies within the workplace will allow low-wage workers to be more productive and may even result in promotions.
    Typically, searching for employment with only a high school education is a tedious task. Most well paying occupations request either a trade or college education. Employers tend to seek applicants that are equipped with the knowledge that the position requires. Though, a majority of those who apply to the job do not have the necessary skills. Yet, the unemployment rate in Texas continues to rise. Texas has gained an increase in the state’s population. A higher population demands more jobs. However, there is not an enough jobs to suffice.
    Furthermore, poverty within Texas is not unassailable. Texans were able to overcome their financial hardships within the 1960s. The government assisted Texans by amending the Social Security Act and assisting with Medicare. This experience has proven to be beneficial. Texans can refer to how they handled poverty in the past when overcoming their poverty today. Though the financial obligations of the government have, unfortunately, led to its collapse.
    Nonetheless, poverty is a challenge that is deeper than social and political issues. Poverty can diminish our quality of life. To break the vicious cycle, education is key. Regardless of your upbringing, you have the opportunity to alter the course of your life. Texas’ poverty rates are unsuitable for our state. There must be a call for immediate action.

    Kirstin 08.10.2013

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