A record number of people were living in poverty in 2010, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday. The 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010 was the largest number in the 52 years that estimates have been published.
The number of people in poverty rose for the fourth consecutive year as the poverty rate climbed to 15.1% up from 14.3% in 2009. According to the report, the median household income in 2010 was $49,445, down 2.3% from the prior year.
In 2010, the poverty threshold for a four-person family, including two kids, was about $22,000. The official definition of poverty excludes certain benefits, such as food stamps and housing assistance.
The results could have been even worse without government benefits such as extended unemployment insurance, which Republicans tried to block in December of 2010.
Harry Holzer, public policy professor at Georgetown University, said that social safety net programs such as unemployment insurance were “pretty good at plugging some holes in the safety net and preventing even more people from falling into poverty.”