Earlier today the U.S. Census Bureau published its annual report on the economic well-being of American households. According to their data, 43.6 million people – or 1 in 7 taxpayers – lived in poverty last year. This represents the highest poverty levels since the 1960’s.
The poverty rate climbed from 13.2 percent, or 39.8 million people, in 2008.
The share of Americans without health coverage rose from 15.4 percent to 16.7 percent - or 50.7 million people - mostly because of the loss of employer-provided health insurance during the recession. Congress passed a health overhaul this year to address rising numbers of the uninsured, but the main provisions will not take effect until 2014.
The new figures come at a politically sensitive time, just weeks before the Nov. 2 congressional elections, when voters restive about high unemployment and the slow pace of economic improvement will decide whether to keep Democrats in power or turn to Republicans.
The 14.3 percent poverty rate, which covers all ages, was the highest since 1994. Still, it was lower than estimates of many demographers who were bracing for a record gain based on last year's skyrocketing unemployment. Many had predicted a range of 14.7 percent to 15 percent.