2009 proved to be a hard year, financially, for Americans. New reports show that the amount of people considered poor has climbed to its highest level in decades. According to the Census Bureau’s annual report, the unemployment rate, combined with the state of the economy, has left one in seven people living below the poverty level.
The recession left millions without a job, and the new Census report shows the effect it took on their finances. The poverty rate in America climbed from 13.2% (39.8 million people) in 2008 to an alarming 14.3% (43.6 million people) in 2009.
The lack of jobs didn’t just leave Americans without money; it also left them without healthcare. 50.7 million people in 2009 did not have health coverage. Congress is attempting to address this concern with the health care overhaul that was passed this year, but the benefits will not kick in until 2014.
President Barack Obama issued a statement referring to 2009 as a tough year. He said that had it not been for the tax relief and the Recovery Act, the situation would have been much worse.
David Johnson, chief of the Census Bureau’s household economics division, said there were many things that prevented the number from being much worse. The extensions granted on unemployment benefits prevented 3.3 million from falling into poverty, according to Johnson. He also said many American families have managed to stay above the poverty level by combining households, or by having adult children move back in with their parents.
According to the data, if the tax credits and food stamp benefits that many received were counted as income, 7.8 million more would have been above poverty levels.
The 2009 poverty line was $21,954 for a family of four.