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article imageNew data shows number of Americans living in poverty spikes

By Lynn Herrmann     Sep 13, 2011 in World
Washington - Economic woes in the United States continue on a downward spiral, as new data released by the Census Bureau shows the country’s poverty rate in 2010 spiked to an alarming 15.1 percent of the population, affecting more than 46 million Americans.
A new report by the US Census Bureau, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010 (pdf), reveals the number of Americans living in poverty in 2010 was 46.2 million, an increase of 2.6 million from the 2009 figure of 43.9 million. It was the fourth consecutive annual increase in poverty numbers and the largest number in 52 years, or since poverty estimates have been published.
Poverty in 2010 is defined as an income of $22,314 or less for a family of four.
Another disturbing loss in the report, as many Americans are aware of, was in the real median household income category. The report shows for 2010, the number was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline over the 2009 median.
Since 2007, the year before the country’s recession began, real median household income has declined 6.4 percent. Another glaring statistic in the report shows real median household income is 7.1 percent below the peak which occurred in 1999, prior to the 2001 recession.
With health coverage still a hot-button topic in the US, the Census Bureau’s report showed the number of people without health insurance in 2010 rose by almost 1 million, from a 2009 figure of 49.0 million to 49.9 million in 2010.
The 15.1 percent poverty rate in 2010 was the highest since 1993, but 7.3 percentage points lower than 1959, the first year such numbers were tracked. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, according to a Census Bureau news release.
Poverty among US families also rose, with the family poverty rate in 2010 coming in at 11.7 percent, or 9.2 million families. The numbers are an increase over 2009 figures of 11.1 percent and 8.8 million, respectively.
Doubled-up households, those defined as including at least one “additional” adult, 18 years of age or older, not enrolled in school and is not the spouse, householder, or cohabiting partner of the householder, rose dramatically. According to the report, by spring 2011, the number of doubled-up households had increased to 21.8 million, an increase of 2 million over spring 2007 numbers, a year before the recession officially began.
The Census Bureau data is more bad news for President Barack Obama as he struggles in his attempt at righting a sinking US economy. The latest figures add to a long list of disturbing numbers, including an unemployment rate over 9 percent for 25 of the past 27 months, record numbers of Americans on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps, record home foreclosures, rising food costs, and rising energy costs, among others.
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