U.S. Poverty Rate Reaches New High

people at food bank

An unemployed mother gets groceries from a food bank

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that nearly one in six Americans are living in poverty—more than 46 million people, the highest number since the Bureau began publishing poverty data. Median household income dropped to its lowest level in 15 years, largely as a result of the recent recession and the disappointing economic recovery that has failed to help the country’s poorest citizens. (The median is the midpoint in a range, with equal numbers both above and below.) Looking back over the recent lack of economic progress, one Harvard economics professor called the last ten years “truly a lost decade. We think of America as a place where every generation is doing better, but . . . the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.” Joblessness is the key factor pushing more Americans into poverty, economists agree. The Census Bureau counted about 48 million people ages 18 to 64 who did not work even one week last year.

Younger Americans, particularly those without college degrees, saw their average incomes fall sharply. While the increase in poverty is affecting all groups of Americans, minorities have been hit the hardest, with African Americans experiencing the highest poverty rate at 27 percent and 26 percent of Hispanic Americans living below the poverty line. (In 2010, the poverty line for a family of four was $22,314.) More and more 25-to-34-year-olds have moved in with family or friends to make ends meet.

How does the Census Bureau define living in “poverty”? What does it mean to be “poor” in America? The Heritage Foundation released an in-depth study that looks beyond the focus on homelessness and hunger. It measures the scope and severity of material hardship in the United States and concludes the average poor person, by government definitions, has a standard of living much higher than most people imagine—in terms of possessions, housing conditions, and availability of food. The report challenges the Census reports as exaggerating current poverty and claims living conditions of poor Americans have improved significantly over time.

Image credit: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

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  1. Camille Copeland says:

    This article about poverty was very interesting…

  2. dylan says:

    i belive that the poverty rate is increasing and that it is a result of poor legislature and a even poor choice of president.

  3. Michelle Malpica Salgado says:

    Wow cant believe it….. but interesting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Jerilyn says:

    I found the article very informative and interesting to read. The statistics are very helpful in understanding the importance and urgency of poverty in America.

  5. Tauna Letcher says:

    The recession hasn’t helped us. Hopefully we can get back in the groove and begin to decrease the unemployment rate so that people will have money to live on again. If people want to lower the poverty rate, then they need to find these people some jobs or educate them so they can get a job.

  6. alliah says:

    oh well i guess they didnt do something correct in their financial process to end up living like that. :[

  7. Kerisa says:

    Well I think that the Government should do something to fix the debt. The Government needs to do something about all the people who don’t work or can’t because they can’t find jobs. People also need to figure out what living in poverty actually means.

  8. cupcakes66 says:

    well i guess the people and/or locals could have chose a better president that cuold be more responsible to handle this huge economic collapse. its pitiful. 🙁

  9. alliah is cupcakes66 says:

    i think it is stupid to call yourself a president when you cant go to a level to be responsible enough to go to a level that allows you to help repair this economic tragity that so many people have to go through!!!! 🙁

  10. nick says:

    people need to quit being lazy and expect the goverment to do everything for them.

  11. Quincy says:

    The government is the ones from what i understand that got us into debt! People need to get up and get a job! They need to stop expecting the government to do everything for them!

  12. Vrizzy Prater says:

    For Your Inform The President, OBAMA? Yeah He’s Fixing The Debt That GEORGE W. Bush Put Us In, It Was Easy To Put Us In Debt But Your Acting Like It Takes 2 Minutes to Get Us Out ! No It Takes More Than Years To Fix Something That You Didn’t Create, Obama Was The President this Nation’s Ever Had.

  13. kawaii pup says:

    wow shocking