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Deep Poverty Rises 8 Percent; Now Encompasses Nearly 21 Million Americans
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 6:55 AM

Losing Ground

America's poverty rate has stabilized after rising during and right after the last recession; yet a greater share of the poor are poorer than they have been in years.

Forty-four percent of America's poor are considered to be in "deep poverty," defined as an income 50 percent or more below the government's official poverty line. That percentage of Americans in deep poverty is up from 42 percent before the recession and near the highest level since data became available in 1975, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey.

Last year, 6.6 percent of Americans, or 20.4 million people, were classified as in deep poverty, up from 4.5 percent in 2000, when the economy was strong. The share of Americans in deep poverty has climbed over the past four decades, nearly doubling from 3.7 percent in 1975.

Overall, about 15 percent of Americans fall below the poverty line, defined as an income of $23,492 for a family of four.

Economists cite several reasons for the rise in deep poverty, including cutbacks on cash assistance for very low-income families with children since the welfare overhaul of the 1990s and the nation's lackluster economic recovery and still-high unemployment rate since the 2007-09 recession.

 

(Source: The Wall Street Journal, 11 October 2013)