In 2014, more than one in seven Americans—46.7 million people—lived below the official federal poverty level of less than $24,000 per year for a family of four. While the U.S. economy has gradually improved in the aftermath of the recession, far too many families continue to struggle to make ends meet, much less get ahead.
Each year, the Center for American Progress releases its “State of the States” report, which evaluates progress toward cutting poverty and increasing opportunity by tracking 15 key indicators in each state. These indicators can help state policymakers better understand the areas in which states are improving the situation of struggling families, as well as the areas in which they must do more to promote families’ well-being. The report ranks states according to how successfully they are reducing poverty and inequality, improving the quality of jobs and education, promoting family stability and strength, and ensuring family economic security.
As this report underscores, policy matters when it comes to addressing poverty and improving economic opportunity. State policymakers have a host of tools at their disposal to bring about change that makes a meaningful difference in the lives of American families.