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The Next America - Statistics 2012 / Statistics

Poverty: U.S. Demographic Snapshot

photo of Stephanie Czekalinski
June 7, 2012

The poverty rate jumped from 14.3 percent in 2009 to 15.1 percent, a year later. What follows is a snapshot of American poverty, according to the U.S. Census.

  • Between 2007 and 2010, the share of Americans living in poverty increased by 2.6 percent. In 2007, 12.5 percent of the U.S. population lived in poverty.
  • In 2010, 46.2 million people lived in poverty--2.6 million more than the year before.
  • The poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites increased to 9.9 percent from 2009 to 2010. The share of blacks and Hispanics living in poverty also increased, to 27.4 percent for blacks and 26.6 percent for Hispanics. The poverty rate for Asians in 2010, 12.1 percent, was not statistically different from 2009.
  • The 2010 poverty rate (15.1 percent) was the highest since 1993. But it was still 7.3 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959--the first year that poverty estimates were published.
  • Although the rate is not the highest it’s ever been, the number of people (46.2 million) living in poverty is.
  • The poverty rate among children also increased from 2009 to 2010, from 20.7 percent to 22 percent. The share of people ages 18 to 64 living in poverty also increased from 12.9 to 13.7 percent. The poverty rate among those 65 and older held steady at 9 percent.
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