Besides the disappointing poverty data, the Census release included a very important piece of good news: the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is working really well. The percentage of residents in Connecticut without health insurance dropped from 9.4 to 6.9%. The decrease is statistically significant - close to 90,000 people that did not have insurance last year have it now.
For children the drop is smaller, and not statistically significant, although the starting point was already low: only 3.7% of Connecticut children remain uninsured, down from 4.3% in 2013. Full coverage is within grasp.
The ACA is not just having positive effects in our small, progressive state in the northeast. Nationwide, the uninsured rate has dropped from 14.5% to 11.7% in one year. The decrease will be even steeper with wider Medicaid adoption, but the trend is in the right direction.
As usual, CT Voices have a policy brief covering this issue as well. You can find it here.
CAHS and the Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) have released an analysis reviewing the latest census poverty data for Connecticut and the rest of the nation. The new figures show a state than far from coming back from the recession stronger, is leaving more families behind.
Although the recession officially ended in 2009, poverty has increased in the last four years: 9.4% of Connecticut´s population was below the Federal Poverty Line in 2009, compared to 10.7% last year. Children are still the hardest hit, as well as minorities. To make things worse, inequality got even worse - the income of the top 1% of US earners grew by 31.4% since the end of the recession, compared to 0.4% to the other 99% of Americans.
You can download the full report here, with additional details regarding education, inequality, access to jobs and food insecurity.
How can we have knowledge without accurate information?
Yesterday's New York Times recounts the US House of Representatives' recent vote to eliminate the American Community Survey, pointing out some of the critical ways that accurate, large-scale data serves the public good:
“Knowing what’s happening in our economy is so desperately important to keeping our economy functioning smoothly,” said Maurine Haver, the chief executive and founder of Haver Analytics, a data analysis company. “The reason the Great Recession did not become another Great Depression is because of the more current economic data we have today that we didn’t have in the 1930s.”
The Times goes on to point out that unlikely partners, such as business, also needs accurate information:
"Target recently released a video explaining how it used these census data to determine where to locate new stores. Economic development organizations and other business groups say they use the numbers to figure out where potential workers are.
"Mr. Webster says that businesses should instead be thanking House Republicans for reducing the government’s reach.
" 'What really promotes business in this country is liberty,' he said, 'not demand for information.' "
"Although the measure is not expected to succeed in the Senate, it's a little frightening it's gotten that much consideration."
Makes me think of another famous Census. Where would Jesus have been born if his parents hadn't been mandated to travel to be counted? Our holidays stories would be a lot different!