Two recent, little noticed government reports spotlight the strained living conditions of millions of U.S. families. One report shows that the number of Americans threatened by hunger inched upward for four straight years from 1999 to 2003, with one in eight people falling in this category in 2003. The other report examines a long list of hardships that are tied to poverty status. Our own analysis, combining measures used in that report, finds that 8 million poor and near-poor children live in households that have experienced recent hunger, severe crowding, or problems paying bills so serious that phone or utility service was shut off (author introduction).
Hardships are widespread among families in poverty
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