U.S. Poverty Reaches Record High

U.S. Poverty Reaches Record High

For the first time ever, sixteen percent of Americans — 49.1 million people — are living in poverty, according to recently released census data.

Published November 8, 2011

In case the epic Black unemployment figures weren't a clear indicator that the U.S. is having trouble spreading around the wealth, recently released census data shows that, for the first time ever, sixteen percent of Americans — 49.1 million people — are living in poverty.


The numbers were released Monday as part of a supplemental report published by the U.S. Census Bureau aimed at providing a more comprehensive statistical look at poverty in America.


Among the findings were poverty statistics for African-Americans showing that 27.5 percent of Black households lived in poverty in 2010. Also, overall, poverty seemed to be more heavily concentrated in the South, where 18.5 million families live in poverty. The next largest region for poverty is the West, with its 13.9 million families living on or below the poverty line. In contrast, the Northeast (7.9 million) and Midwest (8.7 million) reported significantly lower levels of poverty.


The analysis has come under heavy scrutiny by those who call it inaccurate due to its use of poverty indicators dating back to the 1960's and the inability to adjust dollar values to reflect the varying economies of different geographic areas across the nation. For example, according to the index, for a household with two adults and two children, the poverty threshold was $22,113 in 2010.


Analysts say that the new numbers promise to reignite debates surrounding benefits programs such as Social Security and Medicare, ahead of a congressional meeting scheduled for Nov. 23, where more than $1 trillion in cuts to the federal budget are expected.

(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Written by Naeesa Aziz


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