The 5 Most Astounding Facts From the Census Poverty Report

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The U.S. poverty rate reached 15 percent in 2010, the highest level in almost 20 years -- and it would have been much higher without significant government support. The 46.2 million people living in poverty -- defined as below $22,000 for a family of four -- is equal to the population of California and Colorado combined, an all-time high.

That's the top-line news in today's Census report on income and health care. But, remarkably, it might not even be the most striking figure in the report. After spending the morning sifting through the figures and percentages, I've selected five of the most striking and revealing stats with some graphs to add more context:

7.1%: This is small-looking figure with big implications. It is the percent decline in median household income since 1999. Yes, decline. Income is supposed to grow decade-over-decade. That's how wealth builds. But in the last ten years, median income has barely tread water. In fact, real median household income in 2007 was already lower than the income peak of the late-1990s. For the bottom decile, income declined by 12.1 percent over the last ten years. This graph plots real household income by race:

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20-to-1
: This is the ratio of median wealth of white households to black households in 2009. The ratio of white to Hispanic households is 18-to-1.: This number is the decline in full-time male workers between 2007 and 2010. The corresponding number for women was less than half, 2.8 million, which is one reason why some analysts called the first two years of the recession a "mancession.": This is the number of people under 65 without health insurance. It is equal to the populations of Texas, New York and Alabama, combined. This graph plots the growth in uninsured since the late 1980s.

49.1 million

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13.6 millionThis is the total decline in people under 65 who have employer-sponsored health insurance, which is the most common source for a family's health coverage. It represents a 10% decline in coverage between 2000-2010.

6.6 million

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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