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46 Million People Live in Poverty in the US

Homeless man

Poverty rate in the US has hit a record high as 46 million Americans or 15.1% of the population were living in poverty in 2010. A government report reveals this is mainly due to high rates of unemployment. Poverty levels in fact rose for the third successive year. The number of 46 million poor people is the highest since the US government started publishing figures in 1959. Among 34 industrialized nations only Mexico, Israel and Chile have higher poverty rates.

Poverty Line
In the US, the poverty limit has been established as an annual income of $22,113 for a four-member family with two kids. The highest rate of poverty was among kids under 18 at 22%.

Declining Health Insurance Coverage
Middle class Americans have also been affected by continuing decrease in the number of people covered by employer-paid health insurance. The number of uninsured Americans is about 50 million. Though recession has ended, unemployment rate has increased from 9.3% to 9.6%.

Effects of Unemployment
Economic experts say loss of jobs has reduced incomes, increased poverty and cost workers their health insurance coverage. The numbers could be worse but for government aid programs such as unemployment dole, health coverage for uninsured youngsters and stimulus spending.

Hispanics and Blacks Most Affected
President Obama is trying to implement a $450 billion package to create jobs and is lobbying Republican support for this program. Poverty has increased among Hispanics, blacks and whites, but Asians were not affected much. Hispanics and blacks together account for 54% of poor people, Asians are at 12.1% and whites constitute 9.9% of the poor. Southern US reported the highest rates of poverty, decrease in income and people without health coverage.

Effective Health Policy
The good news is that Obama’s healthcare reform has caused a 2.1% percent drop in uninsured youngsters aged between 18 to 24. Under this program, parents can extend health coverage to their children till they reach 25. But, this program has been fiercely attacked by Republicans. However, analysts praised the program saying youngsters need help as they experience difficulty in getting jobs with health insurance coverage. Therefore, they need help from their parents to cover health costs till they are 25.

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