U.S. Poverty Reaches a 17-Year Record High

In 2010, there were 46.2 million impoverished Americans,

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Well this is depressing. The number of impoverished Americans climbed to a 17-year high in 2010 bringing the official poverty rate to 15.1 percent, according to new figures released by the Census Bureau today. With a stubbornly high 9.1 percent unemployment rate, more Americans fell below the poverty line for a total of 46.2 million in poverty up from 14.3 million in 2009. To put it in simpler terms, that means one in every six Americans now falls below the poverty line. CNN Money fleshes out the details:

The government defines the poverty line as income of $22,314 a year for a family of four and $11,139 for an individual. The Office of Management and Budget updates the poverty line each year to account for inflation.

As for middle-class American families, income fell in 2010. The median household income was $49,445, down slightly from $49,777 the year before.

Making matters worse, the Associated Press notes that the number of people in need of health insurance increased to 29.9 million, "a new high after revisions were made to 2009 figures. Losses were due mostly to working-age Americans who lost employer-provided insurance in the weak economy." Important to note, the major provisions in President Obama's signature health care overhaul don't go into place until 2014.

Correction: The post's original headline mentioned a 27-year high, repeating language introduced by the Associated Press. The poverty rate for 2010 was the highest recorded since 1993.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.