Over 43 Million Americans Living In Poverty

By Peter Fowler at 16 Sep 2010

The U.S. Census Bureau says the nation's official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008 and the second statistically significant annual increase in the poverty rate since 2004.

There were 43.6 million people in poverty in 2009, up from 39.8 million in 2008, which was the third consecutive annual increase.

The real median household income in the United States in 2009 was $49,777, not statistically different from the 2008 median.

Meanwhile, the number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009, while the percentage increased from 15.4 percent to 16.7 percent over the same period. These findings are contained in the report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009. The following results for the nation were compiled from information collected in the 2010 Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC):

Among race groups, Asian households had the highest median income in 2009. Real median income declined between 2008 and 2009 for non-Hispanic white and black households, while the changes for Asian and Hispanic-origin households were not statistically different.

In 2009, households in the West and Northeast had the highest median household incomes. (The apparent difference between the two regions was not statistically significant.) Real median income declined between 2008 and 2009 in the Midwest and West; the changes for the Northeast and South were not statistically significant.

Households maintained by naturalized citizens had the highest median income. Native-born households and those maintained by noncitizens experienced income declines from 2008 to 2009, in real terms.

In 2009, the earnings of women who worked full time, year-round were 77 percent of that for corresponding men.

The real median earnings of men who worked full time, year-round rose by 2.0 percent between 2008 and 2009, from $46,191 to $47,127. For women, the corresponding increase was 1.9 percent, from $35,609 to $36,278.

The poverty rate in 2009 was the highest since 1994, but was 8.1 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available. The number of people in poverty in 2009 is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates are available.

In 2009, the family poverty rate and the number of families in poverty were 11.1 percent and 8.8 million, respectively, up from 10.3 percent and 8.1 million in 2008.

The poverty rate and the number in poverty increased across all types of families: married-couple families (5.8 percent and 3.4 million in 2009 from 5.5 percent and 3.3 million in 2008); female-householder-with-no-husband-present families (29.9 percent and 4.4 million in 2009 from 28.7 percent and 4.2 million in 2008) and for male-householder-no-wife-present families (16.9 percent and 942,000 in 2009 from 13.8 percent and 723,000 in 2008).

The poverty rate increased for children younger than 18 (from 19.0 percent in 2008 to 20.7 percent in 2009) and people 18 to 64 (from 11.7 percent in 2008 to 12.9 percent in 2009), while it declined for people 65 and older (from 9.7 percent in 2008 to 8.9 percent in 2009).

Similar to the patterns observed for the poverty rate in 2009, the number of people in poverty increased for children younger than 18 (14.1 million in 2008 to 15.5 million in 2009) and people 18 to 64 (22.1 million in 2008 to 24.7 million in 2009) and declined for seniors 65 and older (from 3.7 million in 2008 to 3.4 million in 2009).

The number of people with health insurance decreased from 255.1 million in 2008 to 253.6 million in 2009. Since 1987, the first year that comparable health insurance data were collected, this is the first year that the number of people with health insurance has decreased.

Between 2008 and 2009, the number of people covered by private health insurance decreased from 201.0 million to 194.5 million, while the number covered by government health insurance climbed from 87.4 million to 93.2 million. The number covered by employment-based health insurance declined from 176.3 million to 169.7 million. The number with Medicaid coverage increased from 42.6 million to 47.8 million.

Comparable health insurance data were first collected in 1987. The percentage of people covered by private insurance (63.9 percent) is the lowest since that year, as is the percentage of people covered by employment-based insurance (55.8 percent). In contrast, the percentage of people covered by government health insurance programs (30.6 percent) is the highest since 1987, as is the percentage covered by Medicaid (15.7 percent).

In 2009, 10.0 percent (7.5 million) of children under 18 were without health insurance.

The uninsured rate for children in poverty (15.1 percent) was greater than the rate for all children.

In 2009, the uninsured rates decreased as household income increased: from 26.6 percent for those in households with annual incomes less than $25,000 to 9.1 percent in households with incomes of $75,000 or more.

(C) NewsRoom America 2010

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