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CRS – Poverty in the United States: 2012

Poverty in the United States: 2012  – Thomas Gabe , Specialist in Social Policy. November 13, 2013

“In 2012, the U.S. poverty rate was 15.0%—46.5 million persons were estimated as having income below the official poverty line. Neither the poverty rate nor the number of persons counted as poor in 2012 differed statistically from 2011 or 2010. In 2012, an estimated 10.0 million more  people were poor than in 2006 and the poverty rate (15.0%) was 22% above that of 2006 (12.3%).  The 46.5 million persons counted as poor in 2012 is the largest number counted in the measure’s  recorded history, which goes back as far as 1959, and the 2012 poverty rate of 15.0% is the highest seen since 1993. The increase in poverty since 2006 reflects the effects of the economic recession that began in December 2007. The level of poverty tends to follow the economic cycle quite closely, tending to rise when the economy is faltering and fall when the economy is in sustained growth. This most recent recession, which officially ended in June 2009, was the longest recorded (18 months) in the post-World War II period. Even as the economy recovers, poverty is expected to remain high, as poverty rates generally do not begin to fall until economic expansion is well underway. Given the depth and duration of the recession, and the projected slow recovery, it will likely take several years or more before poverty rates recede to their 2006 pre-recession level.”

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