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Nationwide Poverty Level Rises

A report released Thursday by the Census Bureau shows a significant increase in the number of Americans living in poverty. The report, using numbers from 2009, also indicates more Americans are living without insurance. Currently, the national poverty rate is 14.3%, a nearly 1% increase from 2008.

An estimated 43.6 million people now live below the poverty line — the largest number in the more than 50 years the Bureau has been collecting data. The national uninsured rate is currently 16.7%, an increase of nearly 1.5% over 2008.

While the poverty rate increased for those under age 65, the Census Bureau’s David Johnson says the poverty rate for those 65 and older actually decreased. “Social Security is their largest source of income,” Johnson says, “which increased between 2008 and 2009.”

Despite the dire numbers, the increase in poverty was expected, and Indiana University assistant professor Kristin Seefeldt says it likely won’t improve any time soon.

“Given continuing levels of unemployment,” she says, “especially long term unemployment, it could be that it may take a couple of years for it to drop down significantly.”

Local and state numbers will be released later this month.

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