46.5 million Americans in poverty

The number of Americans in poverty rose slightly last year to 46.5 million, according to US Census data, despite a stock market recovery. The figure edged up from 46.2 million in 2011, leaving the national poverty rate unchanged at 15 per cent.

Key findings

  • The 2012 poverty rate was 2.5 percentage points higher than in 2007, the year before the economic downturn.
  • 2012 was the sixth year in a row that the poverty rate failed to improve, despite the US being out of recession since 2009.
  • The Gini index was 0.477 in 2012, not statistically different from 2011. Since 1993, the earliest year available for comparable measures of income inequality, the Gini index has increased by 5.2 per cent.
  • In 2012, the family poverty rate and the number of families in poverty were 11.8 per cent and 9.5 million respectively. Neither level was statistically different from the 2011 estimates.
  • In 2012, 6.3 per cent of married-couple families, 30.9 per cent of families with a female householder and 16.4 per cent of families with a male householder lived in poverty.
  • The percentage of people without health insurance coverage declined to 15.4 per cent in 2012, from 15.7 per cent in 2011 – a total of 48 million people without coverage.

Source: Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette Proctor and Jessica Smith, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012, US Census Bureau
LinksReport | US Census Bureau press release | CLASP briefing | BBC report | New York Times report | Wall Street Journal report

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Publication date: 
Sep 17 2013