America's Poor and the Great Recession

America's Poor and the Great Recession

Kristin S Seefeldt and John David Graham, foreword by Travis Smiley
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/29/2013
ISBN: 978-0-253-00977-7
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Millions have entered poverty as a result of the Great Recession's terrible toll of long-term unemployment. Kristin S. Seefeldt and John D. Graham examine recent trends in poverty and assess the performance of America’s "safety net" programs. They consider likely scenarios for future developments and conclude that the well-being of low-income Americans, particularly the working poor, the near poor, and the new poor, is at substantial risk despite economic recovery.

Author Bio

Kristin S. Seefeldt is Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan and author of Working after Welfare: How Women Balance Jobs and Family in the Wake of Welfare Reform and Welfare Reform.

John D. Graham is Dean of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and author of Bush on the Home Front: Domestic Policy Triumphs and Setbacks (IUP, 2010). From 2001 to 2006 he served as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, White House Office of Management and Budget.


“Examining recent trends in poverty from the Great Recession and assessing the performance of America’s “safety net” programs, this important book looks into future scenarios, determining the well-being of low-income Americans is still at substantial risk.”

“The Great Recession was long and deep and the recovery has been very slow for the unemployed and the poor. Instead of focusing on policies for promoting opportunity and reducing poverty, politicians have focused only on reducing the long-run federal deficit. Seefeldt and Graham document how the public and private safety nets, especially the 2009 stimulus, responded to the Great Recession and kept poverty from rising even higher. Most importantly, they suggest many promising policy options that would better protect the poor from the vagaries of the 21st-century economy.”
 — Sheldon Danziger, H. J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor of Public Policy, University of Michigan

“This book is an important inquiry into the impact of 'The Great Recession' on America’s precious poor citizens. Don't miss it!”
 — Cornel West, Class of 1943 University Professor, Princeton University

“Kristen S. Seefeldt and John D. Graham have produced a thorough and enlightening survey of the impact and legacy of the Great Recession on low-income Americans, and the 'safety net' of philanthropic and government programmes on which they rely. . . . [Their] prose remains accessible and readable even whilst negotiating an array of statistics and complex layers of state and federal government programmes.”
 — Journal of American Studies

“All in all, Seefeldt and Graham fulfill their primary goal since they do manage to present a book which can be used as a 'readable […] supplementary text in undergraduate and graduate courses' . . . on poverty and social policy in the U.S. at present. Moreover, precisely because the work offers substantial evidence and thoroughly systematized data about these social phenomena but also provokes questions and debates on these pressing political issues, it may well serve as a guide for future research and may equally prove instrumental in triggering novel responses by both researchers and policy makers. ”
 — European Journal of American Studies

“The Kristin Seefeldt and John Graham primer on the state of America’s poor in the wake of the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 cuts through Beltway theater and provides a clear picture of the magnitude of poverty of the United States as well as the patchwork nature of social services targeting the poor.”
 — Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Tavis Smiley
1. The Great Recession: Definition, Duration, and Impact
2. The Impact of the Great Recession on Poverty in America
3. The Performance of America’s Safety Net
4. Risks to the Safety Net in the Aftermath of the Great Recession
5. Policy Options in a Politically Polarized Environment