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September 16, 2010 Thursday 10:32 AM EST
LENGTH: 193 words
HEADLINE: Poverty in the U.S. spikes
BYLINE: By Les Christie, staff writer
The nation’s poverty rate jumped to 14.3% in 2009, its highest level since 1994, and the 43.6 million Americans in need is the highest number in 51 years of record-keeping, the government said Thursday.
The Office of Management and Budget defined the poverty threshold level as less than $21,954 for a family of four in 2009. The poverty rate increased for all racial groups except Asians.
The jump, reported as part of the regular annual Census Bureau’s “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States,” was not unexpected. The U.S. economy went through a very rough 2009.
Many Americans lost their jobs. The unemployment rate jumped from 7.7% at the beginning of the year to 10.1% by October, before inching down to 10% the rest of the year.
Regionally, the South was the poorest area of the country, with a rate of 15.7%. It also experienced the biggest jump in poverty, 1.4 percentage points from 14.3% in 2008.
The West had a poverty rate of 14.8%, the Midwest rate was 13.3% and the Northeast rate was 12.2%.
The government also said the number of Americans with health coverage dropped for the first time since record-keeping began in 1987.
LOAD-DATE: September 16, 2010