2012 Poverty Rate Highest in 20 Years

Monday, November 25, 2013
Houses in Mississippi (phot: -BBC)

The U.S. poverty rate reached a 20-year high last year, with more Americans classified as poor than any time since the government began keeping track 54 years ago.


The Congressional Research Service reported (pdf) that the poverty rate was 15% in 2012, which is about where it’s been for three years in a row.


In terms of actual people, 46.5 million Americans were counted as poor last year, the highest total on record.


The 2012 rate was “well above its most recent pre-recession low of 12.3% (2006) and

remains at a level not last seen since 1993,” Thomas Gabe wrote in the report.


“Some analysts expect U.S. poverty to remain above pre-recession levels through much, if not most, of the remainder of the decade, given the slow pace of economic recovery,” he added.


In 2012, an average family of four in the U.S. was defined as living in poverty if its pre-tax cash income was below $23,492. The rate varies widely from state to state—from 24.2% In Mississippi to 10.0% in New Hampshire.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Poverty in the United States: 2012 (by Thomas Gabe, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)

California Sinks to Dead Last in Alternative Census Bureau Measure of Poverty (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

20 Million Americans Live on Less than $3,000 a Year (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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