LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The number of Americans living in poverty soared in 2010 to the highest level on record, according to U.S. government data released Tuesday.
The Census Bureau reported the U.S. poverty level jumped to 15.1 percent in 2010 or nearly one in six — a 27-year high marking the largest number of Americans in poverty in the 52 years since such estimates have been reported by the government.
Timothy Smeeding, Public Affairs and Economics professor at University of Wisconsin, Madison, told KNX 1070 he is not at all surprised by the findings.
“Two-thirds of the increase were in people who didn’t have any work at all last year,” said Smeeding. “
Over 46 million Americans were living in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009, according to the report, which assessed data from the first full calendar year following the December 2007-June 2009 recession.
In Los Angeles County alone, as many as 16 percent of families live below the poverty line, according to the most recent data.
But in spite of the financial turmoil plaguing the nation’s economic footing since the 2008 financial crisis, Prof. Smeeding does not blame Washington.
“What you don’t see in these numbers is the fact that the Washington health package which includes the earned income tax credit and food stamps and the reduction in payroll tax don’t show up in these numbers,” he said. “We have to wait until what’s called the ‘experimental numbers’ to come out.”
The 2.3 percent drop in real median household income in the United States also fell in 2010 to $49,445 — a symptom that Smeeding said points to the biggest threat to the nation’s economic health.
“We do know the story now about employment or non-employment and its effect, and it’s devastating,” he said.
Click here to read the full report from the U.S. Census Bureau.