American households held the line on income in 2009, bringing in $49,777, statistically the same as the previous year, the Census Bureau said Thursday, even as the national poverty rate rose to its highest level in 16 years and the actual number of Americans officially designated as poor was the largest since statistics were first compiled a half-century ago.
As expected, the economic downturn forced more people into poverty: The nation's official poverty rate rose to 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008.
The number of people in poverty rose from 39.8 million to 43.6 million. This was the largest number seen in the 51 years for which poverty estimates are available, the bureau said.
When poverty was analyzed by age, the rate rose for children (19.0 percent to 20.7 percent) and adults (11.7 percent to 12.9 percent), but fell from 9.7 percent to 8.9 percent for seniors.
Poverty rose among all race and ethnic groups, but stood at higher levels for blacks and Hispanics. The number of Hispanics in poverty increased from 23.2 percent to 25.3 percent; for blacks it increased from 24.7 percent to 25.8 percent. The number of whites in poverty rose from 8.6 percent to 9.4 percent.
The number of people without health insurance also rose, from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009. That translated into 16.7 percent of Americans without health insurance coverage, compared to 15.4 percent in 2008.
These findings were contained in the bureau's annual Income,"Poverty and Health Coverage in the United States."
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Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor. Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
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