In 2011, the poverty rate in the United States remained steady and the number of uninsured Americans decreased, the Census Bureau said today. That means that more than 46 million Americans lived below the poverty line last year.
NPR's Pam Fessler filed this report for our Newscast unit:
"Many economists had expected the poverty rate to go up because of continued high unemployment. But the Census Bureau says that a shift from part-time to full-time work for many people appears to have kept the numbers from growing. Still, the government says that real median household income dropped 1.5 percent in 2011, to slightly more than $50,000.
"The Census Bureau also found that income inequality grew last between the highest and lowest income groups. The poverty rate for children was almost 22 percent last year, compared with 8.7 percent for those 65 and over. "
This is the first time in three years that the number of poor doesn't rise. The number of people with health insurance increased to 260.2 million from 256.6 million in 2010.
The Census, by the way, defines poverty as a family of four earning less than $23,021.