US Poverty Rate to Hit Highest Since 1960s

Economists think it'll hit 15.7% this year
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 22, 2012 10:16 AM CDT
US Poverty Rate to Hit Highest Since 1960s
This July 16, 2012, photo shows Garrett Goudeseune, 25, Laura Fritz, 27, with daughter Adalade. Both have struggled to find work and are relying on government assistance.   (Kristen Wyatt)

The ranks of America's poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net. The AP surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks, and academics, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1% in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7%. Several predicted a more modest gain, but even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest since 1965.

Demographers also say:

  • Poverty will remain above the pre-recession level of 12.5% for many years. Several predicted that peak poverty levels—15% to 16%—will last at least until 2014, due to expiring unemployment benefits, a jobless rate persistently above 6% and weak wage growth.
  • Suburban poverty, already at a record level of 11.8%, will increase again in 2011.
  • Part-time or underemployed workers, who saw a record 15% poverty in 2010, will rise to a new high.
  • Poverty among people 65 and older will remain at historically low levels, buoyed by Social Security cash payments.
  • Child poverty will increase from its 22% level in 2010.
  • The poorest poor, defined as those at 50% or less of the poverty level, will remain near its peak level of 6.7%.
(More poverty stories.)

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