"To many Americans, the war on poverty declared 50 years ago by President Lyndon B. Johnson has largely failed," writes Annie Lowrey. "The poverty rate has fallen only to 15 percent from 19 percent in two generations, and 46 million Americans live in households where the government considers their income scarcely adequate."
"But looked at a different way, the federal government has succeeded in preventing the poverty rate from climbing far higher," she adds. With lower infant mortality, higher college completion rates, millions of women now working, and malnutrition mostly eliminated, living conditions for low-income Americans have greatly improved over the last 50 years.
"Half a century after Mr. Johnson’s now-famed State of the Union address, the debate over the government’s role in creating opportunity and ending deprivation has flared anew, with inequality as acute as it was in the Roaring Twenties and the ranks of the poor and near-poor at record highs."
An accompanying interactive map depicts the poverty rates in every census tract across the United States.