The number of Americans living below the poverty line rose to a record 46 million last year, the government said on Tuesday, underscoring the challenges facing President Barack Obama and Congress as they try to tackle high unemployment and a moribund economy.
The Census Bureau’s annual report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage said the national poverty rate climbed for a third consecutive year to 15.1 percent in 2010 as the economy struggled to recover from the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.
That marked a 0.8 percent increase from 2009, when there were 43.6 million Americans living in poverty.
Under Obama Poverty Hit A Record 46 million In 2010
More than a fifth of Americans under the age of 18 lived in poverty last year, new U.S. Census figures show. The poverty rate for children rose from 20.7 percent in 2009 to 22 percent last year, making kids more likely than any other age group to be poor. For children under the age of 6, the picture is even bleaker–25.3 percent of them lived in poverty last year. Overall, 15 percent of Americans were poor last year, the highest rate since 1993. (The poverty line is $22,314 pre-tax income for a family of four, not including non-cash benefits, like food stamps.) The number of poor Americans in 2010 was the largest in the 52 years that the Census Bureau has been publishing poverty estimates, the report said, while the poverty rate was the highest since 1993. Since the low point in the labor market downturn in February 2010, nonfarm payrolls have increased by 1.9 million, showing that without stronger growth, it will take years to recoup about 8.7 million jobs lost as a result of the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. The jobless rate rose to 9.6 percent in 2010 from 9.3 percent in 2009. Long-term unemployment, the percent of those without a job for 27 weeks or longer, increased to 43 percent from 31 percent, according to the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute.
Census Bureau News — Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010Poverty
The poverty rate in 2010 was the highest since 1993 but was 7.3 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points.
In 2010, the family poverty rate and the number of families in poverty were 11.7 percent and 9.2 million, respectively, up from 11.1 percent and 8.8 million in 2009.
The poverty rate and the number in poverty increased for both married-couple families (6.2 percent and 3.6 million in 2010 from 5.8 percent and 3.4 million in 2009) and female-householder-with-no-husband-present families (31.6 percent and 4.7 million in 2010 from 29.9 percent and 4.4 million in 2009). For families with a male householder no wife present, the poverty rate and the number in poverty were not statistically different from 2009 (15.8 percent and 880,000 in 2010).