U.S. poverty rate dips a bit in 2011
Posted: September 12, 2012 at 9:24 a.m.
Updated: September 12, 2012 at 11:31 a.m.
WASHINGTON The ranks of America’s poor remained stuck at record levels, although dwindling unemployment benefits and modest job gains helped stave off what experts had predicted would be the fourth rise in a row in the poverty rate.
With joblessness persistently high, the gap between rich and poor increased in the past year, according to two major census measures. Also, the median, or midpoint, household income was $50,054, 1.5 percent lower than 2010 and a second straight decline.
A Census Bureau report released Wednesday provides a mixed picture of the economic well-being of U.S. households for 2011, when the unemployment rate improved to 8.9 percent from 9.6 percent in the previous year.
The overall poverty rate stood at 15 percent, statistically unchanged from the 15.1 percent in the previous year. The rate was better than a consensus estimate of demographers who had predicted, based on weak wage growth, a gain of up to half a percentage point, to levels not seen since 1965.
For last year, the official poverty line was an annual income of $23,021 for a family of four. By total numbers, roughly 46.2 million people remained below the poverty line, unchanged from 2010. That figure was the highest in more than half a century when records were kept. The 15 percent poverty rate was basically unchanged from 1993 and was the highest since 1983.
Broken down by state, New Mexico had the highest share of poor people, at 22.2 percent, according to rough calculations by the Census Bureau. It was followed by Louisiana, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia. On the other end of the scale, New Hampshire had the lowest, at 7.6 percent.