46.2 Million Americans (1 in 6) Now Living in Poverty

Chart courtesy of CNN Money

As of 2010, 1 in 6 Americans was living in poverty, according to a report from the Census Bureau today. The poverty rate was 15.1%, the highest number of Americans living below the poverty rate since the number has been examined. From the New York Times:

An additional 2.6 million people slipped below the poverty line in 2010, census officials said, making 46.2 million people in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, said Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch at the Census Bureau.

That figure represented 15.1 percent of the country.

The poverty line in 2010 was at $22,113 for a family of four.

“It was a surprising large increase in the overall poverty rate,” said Arloc Sherman, senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “We see record numbers and percentages of Americans in deep poverty.”

The middle class has also lost ground in terms of yearly income.


…real median household incomes declined by 2.3 percent in 2010 from the previous year, to $49,400. That was 7 percent less than the peak in 1999 of $53,252.

“A full year into recovery, there were no signs of it affecting the well being of a typical American family,” said Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard. “We are well below where incomes were in the late 1990s.”

According to the census figures, the median annual income for a male full-time, year-round worker in 2010 — $47,715 — was virtually unchanged from its level in 1973, when the level was $49,065, in 2010 dollars, said Sheldon H. Danziger, professor of public policy at the University of Michigan.

As we all know, the rich have gotten much much richer and are continuing to get richer still because of the Bush/Obama economic policies. From CNN Money:

For middle-class families, income fell in 2010. The median household income was $49,445, down slightly from $49,777 the year before.

Median income has changed very little over the last 30 years. Adjusted for inflation, the middle-income family only earned 11% more in 2010 than they did in 1980, while the richest 5% in America saw their incomes surge 42%.

“Over that period of time, it’s not that the American economy has necessarily performed badly,” Osterman said. “As a country we’re richer over that period, but there’s been this real shift in where the income has gone, and it’s to the top.”

Amplifying that trend, the bottom 60% of households saw their income fall last year, while households making $100,000 or more enjoyed a rise in income.

CNN has a chart that shows the poverty level in each state, so you can check to see how people are doing in your neck of the woods. In general, the South is the worst off, and Louisiana and Mississippi have the highest percentages of people living below the poverty line.

I hope someone is showing this data to President Obama, because he needs to either do something about jobs and income inequality or follow LBJ’s example and get out of the way so we can find candidate who is able to show some leadership.


10 Comments on “46.2 Million Americans (1 in 6) Now Living in Poverty”

  1. madamab says:

    Thank you for highlighting this, BB. I was surprised to see the coverage in the corporate media about this problem. Usually they are trying to paint everything as sunshine and rainbows.

    An often unforeseen consequence of growing up poor and AA in the South: incarceration and death sentences, even when the case is very questionable.

    This is an important petition that I thought I’d share with you Sky Dancers. This poor man has been on Death Row for 20 years. 7 out of 9 witnesses say he is innocent. 9 days from now, he will be executed if the governor doesn’t review his case.

    Please sign!

  2. dakinikat says:

    We’re on the same wave length this afternoon. I was horrified when I read this! We’re a steadily undeveloping nation. So sad!

  3. Jadzia says:

    This even made the news here in France. My FIL was shocked, SHOCKED. I tried to explain to him what the future would have held for the kids if we had stayed, but I don’t think he got it. As much as the rest of the world takes a dim view of our foreign policy adventures, there still are a lot of folks out there who think America’s streets are paved with gold, and I’m not just talking about people who live in really poor countries.

  4. Beata says:

    Here’s an excellent essay by Bernie Sanders on poverty in America. He refers to it as a “death sentence”. No one else on the national stage wants to talk about poverty – except when they are blaming the poor for their own plight or accusing them of bankrupting the country by living on the dole.