U.S. Poverty Rate Jumps To 14.3 Percent

The poverty rate jumped to 14.3 percent in 2009, up from 13.2 percent a year earlier and the highest rate since 1994, the Census Bureau said Thursday. Last year, a record 43.6 million people were in poverty, up from 39.8 million in 2008 — the third consecutive increase.

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“The number of people in poverty in 2009 is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates have been published,” the Census Bureau said.

The statistics cover President Obama’s first year in office, when unemployment climbed to 10 percent in the months after the financial meltdown.

The median — or midpoint — household income was $49,777. The average poverty threshold for a family of four was $21,954 in 2009, the Census Bureau said.

The agency also reported that the number of people without health insurance coverage rose to 50.7 million in 2009, while the percentage increased to 16.7 percent. The increase was due mostly to the loss of employer-provided health insurance during the recession. Congress passed a health overhaul earlier this year to extend coverage to more people.

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