Record Numbers of Americans Are Living in Poverty


The United States Census Bureau recently reported that, for the third year in a row, the number of people living in poverty in the United States increased. A record 43.6 million Americans are living in poverty as of 2009, including more than 15 million children. More people are in poverty in America today than in any year since poverty estimates were first published in 1959.

The official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3% -the highest rate since 1994. Between 2008 and 2009, the poverty rate increased for children under the age of 18 from 19% in 2008 to 20.7% in 2009. The poverty rate is highest in the South (15.7%) and lowest in the Northeast (12.2%).

The Census Bureau study also measured the numbers and rate of people without health insurance coverage. Nearly 51 million Americans have no health coverage. The South has the highest uninsurance rate (19.7%; 22.1 million people), compared to the national rate of 16.7%.

Real median income declined for African-American households and white households between 2008 and 2009, but the decline for African-American households was 4.4%, compared to the 1.6% decline for white households. The number of people in poverty and the poverty rate rose from 2008 to 2009 for whites and African Americans, but the 2009 poverty rate for African Americans is 25.8%, compared to 9.4% for whites.