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

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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