Household incomes fell and the poverty rate rose to a 17-year high of 15.1 percent last year as the U.S. economy struggled out of recession, according to a new report from the Census Bureau.
The poverty rate — which the government defines as a family of four earning less than $22,314 annually — has increased for three consecutive years and has now risen by 2.6 percentage points since 2007.
There were 46.2 million people living in poverty in the U.S. last year. That is the largest group of impoverished people ever recorded by the Census Bureau, which has records dating back to 1959.
Real median household income fell 2.3 percent to $49,445 from the year before and is down 7.1 percent from its peak in 1999. Since 2007, the number of men working full time, year-round with earnings decreased by 6.6 million, and the number of corresponding women fell by 2.8 million.
This is the first annual reading on the poverty rate since the December 2007-June 2009 recession.