Hunger Increases as a Problem in Florida
April 28, 2010

This month, the United States Department of Agriculture released its most recent findings about food security.  Food security, or the ability of all people at all times to access enough food to support a healthy and active lifestyle, is an important component of growing and maintaining a healthy and productive population.

Unfortunately, between 2006 and 2008 a greater percentage of Floridians faced food insecurity (i.e., unable at times over the year to afford adequate food) than in the prior three-year period.   Between 2003 and 2005, Florida’s average rate of food insecurity was 9.4 percent of all households, but it climbed to 12.2 percent (or 910,000 households) three years later.   Almost half of those households facing food insecurity in Florida were characterized as having very low food security (i.e., reduced intake because of lack of resources).   Nationally, the food insecurity rate ranged from 6.9 percent in North Dakota to 17.4 percent in Mississippi. 

Although state-specific data was not reported for 2008 alone, USDA reported national data for that year.   Of all households in the U.S., 14.6% were considered food insecure.   Those included 10.7 percent of white non-Hispanic households, 25.7 percent of black non-Hispanic households, and 26.9 percent of Hispanic households.  More than one in five (22.3 percent) of households in the U.S. with children under the age of six were food insecure. 

The findings are even worse among households with incomes below 130 percent of the federal poverty level:  39 percent of all such households experienced food insecurity, including almost 45 percent with children under the age of six.  

Of further interest, USDA reported that the average household expenditure for food was $43.75 per person per week.  It ranged from an average of $47.50, $36.67, and $35.00 respectively for white non-Hispanic, black non-Hispanic, and Hispanic households. 

In a state and country as wealthy as we are, allowing the cycle of food insecurity and hunger to perpetuate and grow is unacceptable.  In particular, the disproportionate prevalence of food insecurity among minorities and the especially high occurrence in households with children under the age of six is appalling.  More must be done nationally and at the state level to provide basic support and opportunities for individuals to work and earn enough money to feed their families and lead a healthy and productive lifestyle.    

 

Tags: hunger | poverty
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Senior Population to Grow; Working-Age Share to Fall
April 26, 2010

Sunshine, beaches, and warm weather make Florida a hot spot for retirees. But who is to support the increasing demand for services that retirees require?  Good question!

Recent state government forecasts suggest that Florida’s working-age population (shown as Workers in the charts), which picks up most of the tab for services, will make up a smaller share of the state’s population over the next 20 years while those who need services (like healthcare and education) will grow.  

 

 

 

Between 2010 and 2030, Florida’s population is expected to increase by about five million people, and more than half of the growth – almost three million people – will result from an increase in the population of 65 and older (labeled Retired in the charts).  The working-age population (ages 25-64) will rise only 1.2 million, college-age people (18-24) about 250,000, and children from birth to 17 about 675,000. 

 

 

Today there are almost three times as many people of working age in Florida than people 65 and older.  But by 2020 there will be 2.3 and by 2030 only 1.7 workers for each retiree.   Consequently, a smaller share of the state’s population will be in prime working (and taxpaying) ages.

Unless significant changes are made to Florida’s revenue structure in the years ahead, it will be more difficult for the state to meet the increased needs of its people.  

 

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Florida's Spending Priorities Compared to Other States
April 19, 2010

Compared to other states, Florida spent proportionately less of its Fiscal Year 2008 budget on elementary and secondary education, higher education, public assistance, and "other" purposes than the national average of all states.  However, Florida spent proportionately more of its budget on Medicaid, transportation, and corrections than the national average.

When compared to the individual 50 states, Florida’s proportional spending on these programs ranks as follows:

Elementary & Secondary Ed: 26th in Spending
Higher Ed: 30th in Spending
Public Assistance: 45th in Spending
Medicaid: 10th in Spending
Corrections: 3th in Spending
Transportation: 12th in Spending
Other:  32nd in Spending

Source:  National Association of State Budget Officers “2008 State Expenditure Report,” Table 5, December 2009.

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