‘Americans Are Hurting’

by Jon Melegrito  |  September 14, 2011

The figures are grim: poverty is up while incomes are down. Nearly one in six Americans lives in poverty. Among the hardest hit are children, women and African Americans.

Key findings released yesterday by the Census Bureau, which compared annual data on income, poverty and health insurance coverage between 2009 and 2010, include:

  • The number of Americans who lived below the poverty line rose from 43.6 million to 46.2 million last year, the largest on record in more than five decades. This means that nearly one in six Americans was poor. 
  • Median household incomes, on the other hand, declined by 2.3 percent to an annual $49,445.
  • The number of Americans with no health insurance increased from 49 million to 49.9 million, which means that nearly one of every six Americans was uninsured.

The recession and the severe deterioration in the country’s overall economic health, which are combining to drive unusually high unemployment, are among the factors cited for the surge in poverty to its highest level since 1993.

Children and women represent especially disturbing increases in the nation’s poverty rates. The number of poor children rose from 20.7 percent to 22 percent. More than 17 million women lived in poverty, including more than 7.5 million in extreme poverty.

The report of rising poverty coincides with the Obama administration’s current efforts to create more jobs.

“Americans are hurting,” said AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee in response to the American Jobs Act outlined by President Obama.

“The President knows it’s time to put the middle class and the country first. The President gets it, the suffering our members see on the frontlines of public service is real … President Obama has taken a bold step toward creating jobs immediately, improving the economy, investing in infrastructure and putting America back to work.”

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