Green Shoots: U.S. Census Bureau Reports Highest Poverty Rate Since 1994: 14.3 Percent

September 16th, 2010

Via: NPR:

This morning, the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual report on income, poverty and health insurance in the U.S. The poverty rate in 2009 rose by 1.1 percent, to 14.3 percent.

According to the agency, “there were 43.6 million people in poverty in 2009, up from 39.8 million in 2008 — the third consecutive increase.”

What makes someone poor, or in bureaucratic-speak, what is the “poverty threshold”? The Census Bureau explains, using numbers from the Consumer Price Index. For a family of four, for example, the weighted average poverty threshold was $21,954.

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5 Responses to “Green Shoots: U.S. Census Bureau Reports Highest Poverty Rate Since 1994: 14.3 Percent”

  1. tochigi Says:

    $420 per week…
    $15 per person per day…
    seems like a decent amount of money…
    all depends on housing expenses i suppose…
    and transport expenses…
    what do other people think?

  2. rotger Says:

    420$ a week is what a student’s summer job is paying. 15$ a day looks aweful to me consedering minimum wage is about 10$ and hour.
    Sure you can stay alive and probably have a good life with your family, but can you save money for insurance? retirement? kids school? What if you car unexpectly broke? or the only family member who can work (at this salaray I can only assum only one of the 2 parents id working) get real sick for a couple of month?
    So to me it looks like 22000$ a years for a 4 member family is indeed poor (by the way I don’t even earn that much, but I have no family)

    Maybe Keven might disagree, or maybe it depends of the country you live in or your life style (not a lot of poeple are growing food so they must buy it)

  3. Kevin Says:

    A family of four with an annual income of $22k is going to be having a hard time, no matter where they are in the U.S. The location, though, will determine how weird they will have to get in order to survive on that.

    In Southern California, that family would likely be considering renting a house with another family, or going homeless/vehicle living, etc. There are vast Hispanic and Asian populations in California that live 10 to 15 to a house meant for four to six people. I used to buy Chinese food from people who lived in their restaurant. A buddy of mine managed to save money each month with an income of $15K per year, but he had to become homeless to do it.

    Southern California is essentially as fucked as it gets, though, so I’m sure that people can report better stories of families living on 22k per year elsewhere.

    Becky and I do fine on less than 22k per year, but our situation is very different…

    We own our property and vehicles, and have no debt. My guess is that less than 1% of the family-of-fours out there, who are making $22k per year, can say the same about their situations. Also, we don’t have large medical insurance bills here in NZ.

    If a family owned their property and was very frugal, this might be adequate income, but it’s not likely to be. Add rent or mortgage to the mix, though, and that’s going to be really grim.

    But the thrills and chills don’t end with the poor people. Look at how allegedly “middle income” households are doing:

    Hint: They are screwed too.

  4. oelsen Says:

    wtf?! 20k for a family? I didn’t know that.

    Just look here:

    3.5 Zi means three and a half room, e.g.

    One Swiss Franc about one Dollar (on average.)

    That amounts to around 14000.-/year to about 18000/year just for housing or an appartment. And we aren’t even an expensive town and those offers are the cheap ones, because they are for students. Mandatory health insurance is about 150.-/month (per adult) and public transport about 500.-/year (per person). So… how the ff can a family survive on 20k a year? Someone, somewhere gets ripped off heavily. Another thought comes to mind: If they really introduce nationwide healthcare, how can it be financed, if even we can’t get a decent system that doesn’t cost too much and can’t afford it anymore? Through raising wages?!

    way to collapse, if it happens around here or there, it doesn’t matter.

  5. tochigi Says:

    $22k/yr is pretty bad for four people, yes.
    but as Kevin says, it comes down to outgoings.
    in the US i reckon medical costs would be the killer (pun intended!)

    in Japan i think the situation would be similar to NZ—if you lived in a very low-population area with no rent or minimal rent and had no car and grew a decent amount of your own food, it would not be too bad. not good, but not dire either. the public health insurance system would not cost much and cover most medical bills.

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