Poverty rises, net worth drops in U.S.
Poverty is rising, and net worth is dropping in the United States. The Census Bureau confirms the nation's poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent in 2009. 43.6 million do not make enough. The Bureau said 1 in 7 live in poverty, the most since record keeping began 51 years ago.
The share of Americans without health coverage rose from 15.4 percent to 16.7 percent - or 50.7 million people - mostly because of the loss of employer-provided health insurance during the recession. Congress passed a health overhaul this year to address the rising numbers of uninsured people, but its main provisions will not take effect until 2014.
The 2009 poverty level was set at $21,954 for a family of four, based on an official government calculation that includes only cash income, before tax deductions.
The Federal Reserve said its data shows, says household net worth fell 2.7 percent this summer. Net worth is the value of assets such as homes, checking accounts and investments, minus debts like mortgages and credit cards.
Shriveled stock portfolios were the biggest force dragging down wealth. Wall Street was shaken by fears over Europe's debt crisis. Since then, stocks have risen.
In a statement, President Barack Obama called 2009 a tough year for working families but said it could have been worse.
"Because of the Recovery Act and many other programs providing tax relief and income support to a majority of working families - and especially those most in need - millions of Americans were kept out of poverty last year," Obama said.
The new figures come at a politically sensitive time, just weeks before the Nov. 2 congressional elections, when voters restive about high unemployment and the slow pace of economic improvement will decide whether to keep Democrats in power in the House and Senate or turn to Republicans.