September 13, 2011; Source: The New York Times | According to Census figures released this morning, 15.1 percent of people living in the United States—46.2 million people—now live in poverty, an increase of 2.6 million since 2010. The percentage of people living in poverty is up from 11.7 percent in 2001. The number of people in poverty is the highest in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, according to Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch at the Census Bureau. As for children, 22 percent now live below the poverty line, an increase from 20.7 percent in 2009. Arloc Sherman, senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities told the Times, “It was a surprisingly large increase in the overall poverty rate . . . We see record numbers and percentages of Americans in deep poverty.”

Median household income dropped 2.1 percent in 2010. Adjusted for inflation, the figure is 7 percent lower than the peak in 1999.—Ruth McCambridge