Shocking, ain’t it? And it’s the official number from the U.S. Census Bureau, so probably the real number is higher. From the New York Times:
Forty-four million people in the United States, or one in seven residents, lived in poverty in 2009, an increase of 4 million from the year before, the Census Bureau reported on Thursday.
The poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent — the highest level since 1994 — from 13.2 percent in 2008. The rise was steepest for children, with one in five residents under 18 living below the official poverty line, the bureau said.
The report provides the most detailed picture yet of the impact of the recession and unemployment on incomes, especially at the bottom of the scale. It also suggested that the temporary increases in benefits in aid provided in last year’s stimulus bill eased the burdens on millions of families.
For a single adult in 2009, the poverty line was $10,830 in pretax cash income; for a family of four, $22,050.
Given the depth of the recession, some economists had expected an even larger jump in the poor. Expanded unemployment insurance and a rise in the number of families doubling up helped temper the trend, said Timothy M. Smeeding, director of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin.
“A lot of people would have been worse off if they didn’t have someone to move in with,” said Mr. Smeeding, noting that in a typical case, a struggling family, like a mother with a child, stays with more prosperous parents or other relatives.
The Census study found an 11.6 percent increase in the number of such multifamily households over the last two years…
[continues in the New York Times]