In the Times Board of Economists column on May 8, ("Ranks of the Poor Keep Growing") A. Gary Shilling claimed: "The poverty rate has been increasing since 1973." Shilling distorted the facts. The poverty rate did spike upward in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but then it started to fall. By 1986, it stood at 13.6%, down from a high of 15.2% in 1983. Thanks to plunging unemployment, the 1987 poverty rate should prove even lower. (The Census Bureau will publish the figure this summer.)
Shilling also spoke grimly of poverty among blacks. He neglected to mention that the 1986 black poverty rate (31.1%) was lower than the figure for his base year of 1973 (31.4%).
By creating more than 12 million new jobs, the Reagan Administration has made progress against poverty. And that progress goes on--in spite of what Shilling writes.
JOHN J. PITNEY JR.
The writer is an assistant professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.