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September 12, 2012

At 15 percent, U.S. poverty rate remains historically high

by Rylan Stewart

Fifteen percent of Americans live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Since falling below 15 percent for the first time in 1966, the poverty rate has exceeded this level during just two other periods – 1982/83 and 1993/4 since the report began in 1959.

This number is down just 0.1 percent from 15.1 percent in 2010.

Median household income declined 1.5 percent in 2011 down to $50,054. This number has dropped 8.1 percent since 2007 and 8.9 percent from its peak in 1999.

The 46.2 million people in poverty is the highest recorded level by the Census Bureau since it began collecting data 53 years ago, but this can also be attributed to population growth.

For some perspective, the “poverty threshold” for a family of four in 2011 was about $23,000 of annual household income, before taxes and not including non cash benefits (food stamps, housing subsidies).

You can find the entire Census Bureau report HERE.

A few more interesting facts from the 2011 report:

  • The poverty level (8.7 percent) of Americans over 65 years is at its lowest record level since the report began in 1959.
  • Men earned $48,202 a year on average, while women earned $37,118. At 77 percent, this female-to-male earnings ratio is actually near the highest level since the report began.
  • The number of Americans without health insurance fell to 15.7 percent, down from 16.3 percent.

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