Number Of Poor Americans Stabilizes At 53-Year High

Sep 12, 2012

The number of people living in poverty across the country has stabilized. But it remains at a more than 50-year high, according to Census data released Wednesday. The data also show the South has the highest level of poverty of any region. 

More than 46 million Americans live in poverty. To put that in perspective, it’s almost five times the population of North Carolina. 

  The number of poor Americans had grown steadily since the recession. But last year it remained basically the same as in 2010, according to new Census data

  John Chesser said in this kind of recovery, that’s good news. He’s a senior analyst at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, a non-partisan research and community outreach center. 

  "It would be great if it had gone down," Chesser said. "But not continuing to go up is at least a positive change."

 Poor in this case means an individual making less than $11,491 a year. For a family of four, it’s $23,018.

 From a regional perspective, the South continued to have the highest poverty rate, although it decreased slightly from 2010. Also according to the data, North Carolina and South Carolina still have higher poverty rates than the national average. 

 Chesser said those numbers are more preliminary estimates than hard data. Next week the Census Bureau will release a more detailed breakdown of regional and state poverty levels.