The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that median household income declined in 2010 and the poverty rate increased. The bureau reported the highest numbers of people living in poverty in the 52 years it has collected such estimates. There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009, the fourth consecutive annual increase. The nation's official poverty rate in 2010 rose to 15.1 percent. That's up nearly a full percent from from 2009's 14.3 percent. It's the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points. Real median household income in the United States in 2010 was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline from the 2009 median.
The U.S. South appears to have been hit the hardest in the last year. According to the report: "The South was the only region to show statistically significant increases in both the poverty rate and the number in poverty -- 16.9 percent and 19.1 million in 2010 -- up from 15.7 percent and 17.6 million in 2009. In 2010, the poverty rates and the number in poverty for the Northeast, Midwest and the West were not statistically different from 2009."
The Census Brureau reports that since 2007, the year before the most recent recession, real median household income has declined 6.4 percent. It is now 7.1 percent below the median household income peak that occurred prior to the 2001 recession in 1999. The number of people without health insurance rose by nearly 1 million to 49.9 million, not statistically different from the previous year.
The poor and the middle class are enduring a joint pummelling as the nation's "recovery" continues, but are the numbers enough to draw Congress's attention away from budget cutting and toward spending aimed at emergency relief? Not likely as the nation's political establishment enters another year of campaigning (did it stop?).