One in seven Americans (or approximately 44 million of your fellow U.S. citizens) are living below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s recently released report on Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States. What is the historical significance of this statistic? . . . In 2009, there were more Americans living in poverty than in any year since 1959, the first year poverty estimates were available.
Last year, the family poverty rate was 11.8% and the number of families in poverty was 8.8 million – this was an increase from 10.3% and 8.1 million, respectively, in 2008. This increase in the poverty rate was seen across all types of families (married-couple, female-householder-with-no-husband-present, and male-householder-no-wife-present). The growth in the number of children living in poverty is especially troubling: 15.5 million children were living below the poverty line in 2009, compared to 14.1 million in the 2008.
Poverty advocates believe that federal stimulus efforts that targeted low-income earners and the extension of unemployment benefits prevented what could have been an even greater increase in the poverty rate.
For additional reactions to the Census report check out The Washington Post’s article, National Public Radio’s coverage, and a Huffington Post article by Maria Foscarinis, the Executive Director and Founder of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.