The beginning of poverty in the United States is historically related to the Great Depression after the stock market crashed. More modern influences on poverty include the 2008 recession.
The stock market crash of 1929 led to a decrease in consumer confidence during a large economic decline. Although actual statistics related to poverty were not measured at the time, social scientists suggest that a large percentage of the U.S. population became poor during the Great Depression. The phrase "war on poverty" developed just before the death of President John F. Kennedy, and it continued through President Lyndon Johnson's term.
Most recently, the nation saw another increase in economic decline, called the Great Recession, that occurred from 2007 to 2009. Poverty during the Great Recession was due to high unemployment rates.