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Americans are poorer than ever

Published time: September 13, 2011 16:56
Edited time: September 13, 2011 20:56
A homeless woman panhandles on the street in New York City (Spencer Platt / Getty Images / AFP)

A homeless woman panhandles on the street in New York City (Spencer Platt / Getty Images / AFP)

More Americans were living in poverty last year than in the entire 52 years that the US Census Bureau has been tracking the figure, new reports say.

Demographers raking over the 2010 census info have revealed that 56.2 million people in the US were living below the poverty line last year, which puts the percentage of impoverished Americans at nearly one-in-six, reports The New York Times. While the population of the country continues to grow, the raw number of Americans suffering does as well. Speaking in terms of per capita, the 15.1 percent figure of impoverished in 2010 is the highest sampling since 1993.

Data suggests that an additional 2.6 million people in America dipped below the poverty line last year, which the Office of Management and Budge says is an annual income of around $22,314 for a family of four, or $11,139 for a single individual. For adults aged 25 to 34, 45.3 percent were living below the poverty line as of last year.

The median income for 2010, $47,715, is only within a few dollars of the 1973 statistic, adjusted for inflation, signaling a stagnant level of wage earning over the course of several decades now. CNN reports that while consumer prices have risen by around 150 percent since 1980, people in America bring in an average of only 11 percent more than they did 30 years earlier.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, adds to the report with the shocking statistic that the number of Americans in need of health insurance went up as well — now at nearly 30 million. The AP says that a weak economy in the wake of the recession has caused an alarming amount of Americans to lose benefits from their employers, and as the unemployment rate continues at 9.1 percent for the month of August, nearly 14 million Americans are out of a job entirely.

“The figures we are releasing today are important,” Robert Groves, the director of the Census Bureau, tells The Times. “They tell us how changing economic conditions have impacted Americans and their families.”

The recession didn’t impact all Americans for the worse, however. Households raking in more than $100,000 annually saw a raise in income last year compared to 2009. The bottom 60 percent? They saw their income drop drastically.

Back in 2009, only 14.3 percent of the country was living below poverty. Statistics from the 2010 census suggest that that percentage has now gone up for three years in a row.