U.S. Poverty Rate Rose to Highest Level in 15 Years in 2009 Amid Recession

The U.S. poverty rate rose to the highest level in 15 years in 2009, government data show, underscoring the toll the recession took on household incomes and adding fuel to an election-year debate over the Obama administration’s economic policies.

The poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent from 13.2 percent, and the number of people classified as poor rose to 43.6 million from 39.8 million in 2008, according to a Census Bureau report released today. The median household income was $49,800, which the government said isn’t statistically different from 2008.

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