Today's U.S. Census Bureau report on poverty in America today paints a pretty grim picture: the poverty rate--the percentage of American with incomes below $22,314 (a figure annually adjusted with inflation)--reached a 17-year high in 2010, at 15.1 percent. While that record-high figure may be overestimating the actual level of poverty in the U.S.--since subsidies for food, rent, and other goods and services aren't factored in--the changes in the poverty rates for different demographics in the U.S. can give us insight into who's been hit hardest by the recession. One of the most startling demographic differences from the report? America's elderly have been relatively well-insulted from the recession--it's the young people who've had it worst.
The poverty rates for those under 65 have increased from 2009 to 2010 in the wake of the late-2000s recession, which officially ended in the summer of 2009. For 18- to 64-year-old Americans, it jumped from 12.9 percent in 2009 to 13.7 percent in 2010, the highest it's been since 1959, according to the available data. But for older Americans, those 65 or older, the poverty rate hovered near the record low set in 2009, changing a statistically insignificant amount. But the most dramatic swing in poverty occurred for those under 18. The poverty rate for that age group made a 1.3-point jump to a whopping 22.0 percent, a level that hasn't been seen for America's minor since the early 1990s.