US Poverty Rate to Hit Highest Since 1960s
Economists think it'll hit 15.7% this year
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 22, 2012 10:16 AM CDT
This July 16, 2012, photo shows Garrett Goudeseune, 25, Laura Fritz, 27, with daughter Adalade. Both have struggled to find work and are relying on government assistance.   (Kristen Wyatt)
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(Newser) – The ranks of America's poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net. The AP surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks, and academics, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1% in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7%. Several predicted a more modest gain, but even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest since 1965.

Demographers also say:

  • Poverty will remain above the pre-recession level of 12.5% for many years. Several predicted that peak poverty levels—15% to 16%—will last at least until 2014, due to expiring unemployment benefits, a jobless rate persistently above 6% and weak wage growth.
  • Suburban poverty, already at a record level of 11.8%, will increase again in 2011.
  • Part-time or underemployed workers, who saw a record 15% poverty in 2010, will rise to a new high.
  • Poverty among people 65 and older will remain at historically low levels, buoyed by Social Security cash payments.
  • Child poverty will increase from its 22% level in 2010.
  • The poorest poor, defined as those at 50% or less of the poverty level, will remain near its peak level of 6.7%.