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Mississippi had the highest share of poor people, at 23.1 percent, according to rough calculations by the Census Bureau. It was followed by Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas and Georgia. On the other end of the scale, New Hampshire had the lowest share, at 7.8 percent.

Rep. Barbara Lee, California Democrat and co-chairwoman of the Out of Poverty Caucus on Capitol Hill, said it was “critical that Congress and the entire nation recommit to the fight against poverty” and not attempt to “balance our budgets on the backs of the poor” by cutting anti-poverty programs.

According to census data, the child poverty rate rose in 2009 to 20.7 percent, up from 19 percent in 2008.

The adult poverty rate also rose, from 11.7 percent to 12.9 percent, but fell among seniors, from 9.7 percent to 8.9 percent.

The census report also found that the number of people without health insurance rose from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009. This meant 16.7 percent of Americans didn’t have health insurance last year, compared with 15.4 percent in 2008.

Virtually the entire increase was among people ages 18 to 64, who are ineligible for children’s health programs or Medicare for seniors, but who were likely to have lost the health insurance coverage from their jobs if they were laid off.

“The conclusion is inescapable that had the health reform law been in effect in 2009, the number of people without health insurance would have risen far less,” Mr. Greenstein said.

“This is exactly why full implementation of health reform is so urgently needed,” added Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

Robert Moffit, a senior analyst at the Heritage Foundation, countered that the health care plan passed in March should not be expected to bring universal health care coverage. Even with Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul fully implemented, an estimated 23 million Americans “will still be without coverage,” he said.

c This article is based in part on wire service reports.