Change You Can Chart: 2009 US Poverty Rate Highest Since 1994, 43.6 Million Americans Living Below Poverty Line

Tyler Durden's picture

There is spin and there are facts (and even these come from the Census Bureau so take them with a ton of salt): the official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3 percent—up from 13.2 percent in 2008. This was the second statistically significant annual increase in the poverty rate since 2004, in 2009, 43.6 million people were in poverty, a 3.8 million increase from 39.8 million in 2008—the third consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty. Additionally, we are stunned to learn that the uninsured rate and number of people without health insurance increased between 2008 and 2009. Perhaps the president should just go back to a permanent vacation status, and just let Wall Street add another 10-20 million to this statistic in 2010, as the US middle class continues to disappear just so it can fund the exorbitant lifestyles of some 100,000 people.

Some more finding from the report:

  • The poverty rate in 2009 (14.3 percent) was the highest poverty rate since 1994 but was 8.1 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available (Figure 4).
  • The number of people in poverty in 2009 (43.6 million) is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates have been published (Figure 4).
  • Between 2008 and 2009, the poverty rate increased for children under the age of 18 (from 19.0 percent to 20.7 percent) and people aged  18 to 64 (from 11.7 percent to 12.9 percent), but decreased for people aged 65 and older (from 9.7 percent to 8.9 percent) (Table 4).

Impact of the 2007 Economic Downturn

The poverty rate and the number in poverty increased by 1.9 percentage points and 6.3 million between 2007 and 2009 (Table 5). The increase in the overall poverty rate was:

  • Larger than the increase in the poverty rate during the November 1973 to March 1975 recession.40
  • Smaller than the increase in the poverty rates associated with the January 1980 to July 1980 and July 1981 to November 1982 combined recessions.

Between 2007 and 2009, the child poverty rate and the number in poverty increased by 2.7 percentage points and 2.1 million.

And here is how the change you can not only believe, but chart, looks like:

Full report.

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WaterWings's picture

In that vein, what will America look like if the Federal Reserve holds itself up as is for the next 20 years - no catastrophic events, just slow decline?

Turd Ferguson's picture

Expectations were 44.1M so Bob Piss-on-me says this is bullish.

MarketTruth's picture

Guess who makes money and controls SNAP (food stamps)? If you guessed JP Morgan you would be right. So more SNAP = good for JPM.

NOTW777's picture

bringing hope and change to amerika

midtowng's picture

Blaming Obama for this situation is like blaming the vulture for eating the dead carcass of the antelope that the lion killed. Obama didn't kill the economy. He's just feasting on the remains because that's what he's supposed to do. He's part of the system just like the corporate lion's were.

Dagny Taggart's picture

That leaves 55.4% of America to go (figuring in the one percent as projected looters/winners).

CosmoJoe's picture

This is music to the ears of our dear leaders in Washington.  More people that need the "help" of the Government!

Shocker's picture

Its pretty sad what they have created here. The bad part is if they are reporting 14% poverty level, what is the actually number 30%? But I'm not shocked by any means, I seen the lost of jobs, and people losing everything they worked for. What is really annoying is Fedx posted double earning but then go ahead and layoffs something like 1700 people. Kinda ridiculous for sure.

MachoMan's picture

They and the rest of corporate america post earnings by cutting costs, not organic revenue growth...  expect this trend to continue.  Eventually they will have to hack off their own limbs and organs or those of other companies to survive.

insidious's picture

What is the current definition of poverty in the U.S.?

Dagny Taggart's picture

$22K and change per family of four.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Not a great month, but poverty?




Oh!  Eeeesh.

Mercury's picture

-mostly income tax free too I should think.  That's worth something.

Almost Solvent's picture



Add in Earned Income Credit (EIC) & Child Credit, I would estimate a federal refund to a family of 4 grossing 22k per year in the neighborhood of $10,000, more if they actually had withholding during the year, but most folks in this bracket claim full exemptions and have no income taxes withheld throughout the year.

LoneStarHog's picture

Anyone not working for the U.S. Government or Wall Street.

Chemba's picture

only basic cable, no HBO.

only one working car not newer than 10 years old

only once cell phone contract per household

only Cheez Doodles, jumbo bags Tyson fried chicken, no Carr's table crackers or boneless breast

wowser22's picture

Shit, that's me sans the cheese doodles and fried chicken.  On a side note, it seems everytime I go shopping, and without fail, the person ahead of me is using the Ohio Direction card ( stamps card).  Most of the time they weigh approximately 350 lbs. too.

MachoMan's picture

The cheapest food is often the worst for you...  cheapest, not factoring in marginal increases in healthcare/productivity costs of course.

insidious's picture

I think I live fairly reasonably for my income. I can't imagine what it would be like to live on $22K with a family of four. No good even if you were living by your self.

chet's picture

Yeah, the poverty level is set really low.  It's like talking about "official unemployment" without acknowledging U6 unemployment.

If you make $22,001 to support your family of four, you aren't in poverty.

Sudden Debt's picture

I've heard Obama's new punshline will be:


carbonmutant's picture

Actually its closer to, "Yes we can but Americans don't deserve it!"

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Where is FLOTUS?  Is she still embarrassed to be an American?  Enquiring minds want to know.

carbonmutant's picture
"Don’t ask! It’s hell. I can’t stand it!" ...LOL
Sudden Debt's picture

It's every AMERICANS RIGHT! To be poor!


Tarheel's picture

The only promise obama has kept is to bring us "change we can believe in". well i certainly believe Americans have lost incredible value in their homes, paychecks and portfolios since he has taken office.

Obama can keep his change!

Red Neck Repugnicant's picture


I would encourage you to contact Oliver Sacks at Columbia University.  

His email is:

Dr. Sacks specializes in bizarre neurological disorders and would probably be able to offer some medical help for your retrograde amnesia - it appears that you have no recollection of US history before January 20, 2009.

Perhaps, if you're weird enough, he'll include you in his next book The Political Party that Mistook their Morals for a Buck - the much anticipated follow-up to The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. 

Tarheel's picture

nice try Libtard. Your effort to cover up obama's fuckups will reap no rewards, but if this keeps you from your job at ACORN then by all means, type away!!

NumberNone's picture

When I look in my wallet I see no bills and I've only got a quarter, 2 nickles and a penny in my pocket...I guess he really did bring me change!!

Red Neck Repugnicant's picture

Stupidity is the deliberate cultivation of ignorance. 

--William Gaddis

Ms. Erable's picture

Nice to see that you've made a career out of being stupidly ignorant. I guess that makes you middle management. Hope you don't burn your fingers taking the fries out of the fryer during your next shift.

NumberNone's picture

Faux News...Huffington Post just called and there are some geriatric tea party members that need bashing.  Go get 'em tiger. 

Calmyourself's picture

No, it is a liberal who knows no history and preaches the same retarded solutions that have failed over and over.  This instead of free market solutions that encourage freedom with appropriate safeguards for the truly vulnerable among us.

Mercury's picture
43.6 Million Americans Living Below Poverty Line

Maybe we should think about not importing any more and concentrate on providing opportunities for those already here.

Developers's picture

but then who would vote obama in for his 2nd term?!?

MachoMan's picture

America is a big tent pitched on the outskirts of an unwitting town that has a sign that reads, "200 lb. man-eating chicken."  As the patrons line up to pay $5 for entry, they are amazed at what the see when they walk in the tent.  A 200 lb. man with a bucket of KFC and not the gigantic terrorizing chicken they had hoped. 

Look at the discrepancies of our immigration, citizenship, and tax/money policies.  We open our border to whomever wants to come here, regardless of their status, and they can compete in all sorts of jobs.  We grant visas so american companies can get cheap, skilled labor and colleges can have warm bodies in seats.  The either send their profits back home (mexico) or pack up shop and go back to their home countries better trained where more opportunity exists.

But, if you're a citizen, the whole charade changes...  you cannot get rid of your citizenship...  you will be a terrorist who still has to pay taxes to uncle sam for a decade.  If you try and move money overseas, it will be watched and scrutinized and potentially taxed/confiscated. 

America exists by selling snake oil...  we're basically the universe's worst black hole...  we slingshot some travelers, but capture the lion's share, the unwary.  We perpetuate ourselves on the continued importation of poverty.  Eventually, this need requires cannibalization of the locals. 

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Covered wagon medicine show
Take you to the place where the healing flows
Weak in spirit we got the juice
Wont save your soul it`ll shine your shoes
Treated king to kangaroo
Santa Fe to Timbuktu
Don`t be fooled by imitation
This is the stuff that cured a nation
We took the tube and the high plains too
Never stopped long just passing through
A drop of the laughter of the maids of France
Makes a hopeless cripple dance

It was really vile weather
When we got to tarred and feathered
You could hear the six guns sound
As they chased us out of town

In India we`re all the rave
Discovered that its great as aftershave
Dropped in the sea just off Japan
Swapped 20 bottles for an aqua-walkman
Immunity from ridicule
Improves your brains if you`re a fool
And I read in the Middle East
They traded some for a hostage release
Now if you`re bald it`ll give you hair
If you got straight trousers it`ll give you flares
Feeling up you`ll get depressed
Out of style here`s a brand new dress

It was really vile weather
When we got to tarred and feathered
You could hear the six guns sound
As they chased us out of town

The stuff we sell is just the best
Passing all consumer test
Days of heaven nights of sin
Voodoo stick and sharks fin
When all around you seems like hell
Just one sip will make you well
Multipurpose in a jar
If you ain`t ill it`ll fix your car
In days of yore for all bad feelings
Washing socks and stripping ceilings
Nowadays its used medicinally
For all known human malady

It was really vile weather
When we got to tarred and feathered
You could hear the six guns sound
As they chased us out of town

Guaranteed don`t you know
Money back?
You`ll get a no!
It`s the one and only medicine show

rle1221's picture

let them die..... and decrease the population surplus

MachoMan's picture

You say that like someone who has a choice in the matter...

Mariposa de Oro's picture

Good point.  I've noticed that those who believe the human population needs to be reduced never think that they may be on the list.  Its always that 'other useless eater' that's causing the problem.  Be careful what you wish for.

MachoMan's picture

No shit.  I don't think any man has a mad max fantasy that entails him dying from some rudimentary disease, basic infection, or in a brutal beatdown by a mob of hungry citizens soon to die anyway from starvation...  or his gun misfiring and getting stabbed in the face...  things like that.

Obviously we all hope liquidation doesn't have to happen...  all you can do is prepare the best you know and keep your head on a swivel.  Best of luck to everyone.

digalert's picture

What's this nonsense with "child poverty" rate? Is this inferring there might be rich parents with poor children, or rich children with poor parents? Do some of the impoverished children have drug, alcohol or criminal problems? Homeless?

This is a lame progressive effort to push liberal re-distribution policy. The same bullshit tripe of a few months ago where the chant was, "oh no, school summer vacation is here, where will the children get nutrition?" Nutrition, that's the free/subsidized breakfast, snacks and lunch programs for school kids you pay for.

cxl9's picture

There is, of course, no real poverty in America, where even the street bums have cell phones and drink frappuccinos, and income thresholds conveniently exclude government payments. It's entirely media- and government-contrived. "Poverty" is defined by those who stand to gain from the definition.

A_MacLaren's picture

Blame the Politicians, ECONomists and Corporations for NAFTA-izing, Offshore/Outsourcing the real economy while the Fed and Banksters handed out debt shovels and promises of a "financial/consumption economy" with ever rising asset prices for all. 

Production of real goods and non-financial services?  We don't need no stinkin' production...

And then blame Joe and Jane Sixpack, and the Sheeple Family, for believing it and allowing it to happen.

3ringmike's picture

live and work out of my van. living behind a gas station that is located next to a beautiful southern california beach that has awesome surf. buy a cup of coffee at the gas station and get unlimited refills. don't have any set expenses, so have no need to work everyday. no taxes, no mortgage, no worries. i just wished i had gone broke years ago. viva poverty! viva freedom!

Mariposa de Oro's picture

Yup. I did the live in a car thing, back in '82. I wouldn't say it was liberating but you do learn what's important, required and/or just plain nice to have. That said, indoor plumbing is a gift from God so far as I'm concerned! Yes, when you have little to lose life becomes much simpler.

Calmyourself's picture

Lived on Fiesta island in San Diego in a tiny RV I drove from AK.  I was poor but reasonably happy.