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37 million U.S. citizens now live in poverty as poverty rate increases for fourth consecutive year

(Washington September 1, 2005) The number of people living in poverty in the United States rose to  37 million people in 2004, up 1.1 million people from 2003, the United States Census Bureau said on August 30th.  .

The poverty rate  rose to 12.7 per cent of the population in 2004, the fourth consecutive annual increase. This means that one out of every 8 people in the United States is living in poverty. A family of four with two children is considered to be living in poverty if its income was $19,157 or less, while for a family of two with no children, it was $12,649, and for a person 65 and over living alone, it was $9,060.

Since President George Bush won the 2000 election, the number of people living in poverty in the US has grown from 31.1 million--an additional 6 million people. President Bush’s vaunted tax cuts do not seem to doing much for poor people. As the share of the richest people in national income has also increased substantially, the gap between poor and rich is widening greatly.

The last decline in overall poverty was in 2000, when 31.1 million people lived under the threshold - 11.3 per cent of the population.

Asians were the only ethnic group to show a decline in poverty - from 11.8 per cent in 2003 to 9.8 per cent last year. The poverty rate among the elderly declined as well, from 10.2 per cent in 2003 to 9.8 per cent last year.

Detroit surpassed Cleveland as the nation's most impoverished big city. Survey figures  show 33.6 percent--or  more than one-third--of Detroit's residents lived at or below the federal poverty line in 2004, the largest percentage of any U.S. city of 250,000 or more people. The top five were Detroit; El Paso, Texas (28.8 percent); Miami (28.3 percent); Newark, N.J. (28.1 percent); and Atlanta (27.8 percent).

The number of people without health insurance grew from 45 million to 45.8 million. At the same time, the number of people with health insurance coverage grew by 2 million last year.

For further detailed information see Census Bureau publications

Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004 August 2005 (85 page pdf file)

Income, Earnings, and Poverty From the 2004 American Community Survey  August 2005 (24 page pdf file)

Press release

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