U.S. Poverty at 18-Year High
The median household income fell in 2010, resulting in an increase in the percentage of people living in poverty for the third year in a row, the government reported on Tuesday.
The U.S. Census Bureau said that last year’s median household income of $49,445 was 2.3 percent lower than it was in 2009, and 6.4 percent lower than it was in 2007 - the year before the last recession started.
In 2010, the official U.S. poverty rate was 15.1 percent, up almost a percentage point from the year before and the highest its been in 18 years. The were 46.2 million people living in poverty last year - up from 43.6 million in 2009. This was fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years the government has been keeping track of poverty estimates. But, also keep in mind our population is much higher now than it was back then - the poverty rate in 2010 was 7.3 percentage points lower than it was in 1959.
Regionally, the median income fell in in the Midwest, South, and West but was little changed in the Northeast. The Northeast had the lowest poverty rate in the nation at 12.8 percent, and the South had the highest level at 16.9 percent. The South was the only region to show statistically significant increases in both the poverty rate and the number in poverty -- 16.9 percent and 19.1 million in 2010 - up from 15.7 percent and 17.6 million in 2009. In 2010, the poverty rates and the number in poverty for the Northeast, Midwest and the West were not statistically different from 2009.
Not surprisingly, the percentage of people who went without health insurance highly correlated to income levels and the rate of poverty. Fifty million people were uninsured in 2010, accounting for 16.3 percent of the population. The slight increase in 2010 was not statistically different from the previous year.
In 2010, the uninsured rates decreased as household income increased from 26.9 percent for those in households with annual incomes less than $25,000 to 8.0 percent in households with incomes of $75,000 or more.
There was also quite a disparity between race groups, as well as between native-born and foreign-born residents. Hispanics had the highest uninsured rate of 31.6 percent, and 20.3 percent of blacks were uninsured. Non-Hispanic whites had the lowest uninsured rate of 11.5 percent and 16.5 percent of Asians were uninsured. Of natural-born U.S. citizens, 13.6 percent were uninsured. Among foreign-born residents, naturalized citizens had an uninsured rate of 18.4 percent while 45.1 percent of non-citizens went without health insurance.
The report follows President Obama’s unveiling of a massive $447 billion “American Jobs Act” that he urges Congress to pass right away to boost employment and spur the economy. The unemployment rate has hovered around 9.1% since the beginning of 2010.
U.S. Census Bureau