Below are the five most shocking new realities to come out of the report.
1. The number of those living in poverty is the highest in Census history.
As Clyburn pointed out at the hearing, the poverty rate rose for the third consecutive year, to 15.1 percent. The 46.2 million Americans living in poverty is the highest amount since the Census began recording the statistic 52 years ago.
2. We were richer last millennium.
Average income took a dramatic hit, declining 6.4 percent since 2007 — the last year before the recession. The current median income is 7.1 percent below the peak of median household income that was reached in 1999. In 2010, the average household earned a median of just $49,445.
3. Women still earn a fraction of what men make.
Despite the passage of years, the gender gap still has not closed in the workplace. According to the Census’ data, a woman working full-time for a full year earned approximately 77 percent of what a man working the same amount of time in the same job was paid. However, women were more likely to hold down that full-time job: Since 2007, the number of women working full-time year-round decreased by 2.8 million. More than twice that amount, 6.6 million men, left full-time jobs in the same time period.
4. There’s no safety in numbers.
Not only has the total number of individuals living in poverty risen, the number of families living in poverty also saw a rise from previous years. About 9.2 million families (11.7 percent) were under the poverty line, up from 2009′s 8.8 million families (11.1 percent).
5. Everything’s bigger in the South — including the poverty rate.
While poverty rates remained fairly stable in the West, Northeast and Midwest, the South experienced an increase in poverty. In 2009, 17.6 million (15.7 percent) were under the poverty line. By 2010, they had added 1.5 million to that number, sending the poverty rate to 16.9 percent.
The report will surely be a favorite piece of evidence during upcoming congressional negotiations for jobs legislation and deficit reduction.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), in the midst of a hearing for the deficit reduction super committee, cited the report just hours after its release. “Since we’ve been sitting here we’ve received notification that the nation’s poverty rate has increased to 15.1 percent, almost a full percentage point,” he said, underlining the urgency of the economic rescue attempt the committee was created to undertake.
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
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