New Census Bureau data released today show that 11.7% of all Utahns were living below the federal poverty line in 2014. Children were even more likely to be in poverty, with 13.3% of Utah children below the poverty line. This means that the Utah poverty rate remains well above normal levels, even five years after the end of the 2008-2009 recession.
In addition, the new income data released this week by the Census Bureau shows that Utah real median household incomes rose but less than nationally. Utah’s ranking among the states was 13th highest for median household income, two places lower than last year. Median household income remains below its pre-recession level.
The poverty-diminishing effects of safety net programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), child tax credits, food stamps, WIC and school lunches are not reflected in these numbers. However, a KIDS COUNT report released earlier this year shows that such programs lifted 98,000 Utah children out of poverty in 2011-2013 and that twice as many children would live in impoverished circumstances if it weren’t for these tax credits and social programs.
However, 115,000 Utah families with 258,000 children are at risk of losing all or part of their federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credits (CTC) unless Congress saves three important provisions that are set to expire.
“The public safety net works, and all the more so thanks to the many private charitable initiatives that Utah is well-known for. This public-private partnership gives us the tools we need to keep children safe from poverty, and we need Congress to keep these tools working for working families by not letting them expire. In the richest country in the world, no child should ever have to go hungry,” said Matthew Weinstein, State Priorities Partnership Director at Voices for Utah Children.
Utah's members of Congress are in an especially important position to decide the fate of the expiring provisions of the EITC and child tax credits. Utah's delegation serves in leadership positions on key committees that will decide whether the expiring provisions of these tax credits are made permanent later this year. Most important, Senator Orrin Hatch chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees all tax-related legislation.
Voices for Utah Children and partners have formed the Utah Family Tax Credits Coalition and launched a campaign encouraging Utah's congressional delegation to save the three expiring provisions of the popular Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Visit www.utahfamilytaxcredits.orgto learn more, sign on as a supporter, read stories of families impacted, and send emails directly to House and Senate members.