1 in 3 Americans Poor or 'Near Poor' Census figures show spike in people just getting by: New York Times By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Nov 19, 2011 12:03 PM CST 85 comments Comments Even census officials were surprised at the number of people described as 'near poor,' says the New York Times. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – More bleak census numbers: About 100 million Americans, or 1 in 3, are either living in poverty or not too far above the official level, reports the New York Times. Specifically, 51 million people have incomes less than 50% above the poverty line, and this group described by the newspaper as "near poor" surprised even the Census Bureau's chief poverty statistician. “These numbers are higher than we anticipated,” she says. “There are more people struggling than the official numbers show.” Among the stats to describe the demographics of the group: Roughly half are white people living in the suburbs, and 28% have full-time jobs. “These estimates defy the stereotypes of low-income families,” says the census official. Meanwhile, the ranks of the poorest of the poor also are swelling.