This report is an empirical inquiry into how poverty is changed by the macroeconomy. The analysis suggests low real wage rates and not the unemployment rate are the most important determinant of poverty in the long run. Changes in output and unemployment primarily affect cyclical or shortrun poverty. The empirical results weaken the belief that output growth acting alone will significantly and permanently reduce poverty in the United States. Instead, the results suggest combining economic growth strategies with targeted interventions that may lie outside the traditional sphere of monetary and fiscal policy.
Even though farming accounts for only about 1 percent of the total national workforce, it is at the core of the food and fiber system. The system is one of the largest sectors in the U.S. economy, and is comprised of industries related to farming, including feed, seed, fertilizer, machinery, food processing, manufacturing, and exporting. The interrelationships among the sectors of the food and fiber system and the U.S. and world economies are many and complex. As a result, U.S. and world policies and economic factors--such as interest and inflation rates--play a critical role in everything from the cost and availability of farm credit to the demand for farm products at home and abroad. The farm crisis of the 1980's illustrates how specific economic events can impact the food and fiber system. In addition, long-term changes in the system have occurred in response to shifts in consumer incomes, demographics, lifestyles, and perceptions of health and diet.