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U.S. Poverty Rate Unchanged in 2011, While Household Income Takes a Dip

Lisa Scherzer
Lisa Scherzer
The Exchange

The poverty rate in the U.S. saw a slight dip last year from 2010, according to a report released by the Census Bureau Wednesday. There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2011, down from 46.3 million in 2010. After three consecutive years of increases, neither the poverty rate (15%) nor the number of people in poverty were statistically different from the 2010 estimates, the report said.

Household income fared worse, however. For the second year in a row real median household income declined; between 2010 and 2011 it dropped 1.5% to $50,054.

Here are some other highlights from the report:

-The West experienced the sharpest decline in real median household income -- down 4.1% -- between 2010 and 2011 compared with the other regions.

- In 2011, the percentage of people without health insurance decreased to 15.7% from 16.3% in 2010. (In 2010 48.6 million people were uninsured, down from 50 million in 2010.)

- The percentage and number of people covered by employment-based health insurance in 2011 was essentially the same as 2010, at 55.1% and 170.1 million.

-The uninsured rate was statistically unchanged for those age 26 to 34 and 45 to 64. But it declined for people age 19 to 25 (likely because under the Affordable Care Act of 2010 19- to 25-year-olds are eligible for coverage under a parent's health plan), and those age 35 to 44 and 65 and older.

-In 2011, the median earnings of women who worked full time, year-round ($37,118) was 77% of that for men working full time, year-round ($48,202) -- not statistically different from the 2010 ratio.

- Real median earnings of both men and women who worked full time, year-round declined by 2.5% between 2010 and 2011.