US

Census: 45 Million Americans Still Live In Poverty

There were 45.3 million Americans living in poverty in 2013, according to new Census Bureau numbers — a statistical tie with 2012. That’s more than the entire population of California, estimated at just north of 38 million in 2012.

The official poverty rate fell slightly to 14.5 percent of the country in 2013, down from 15.0 percent in 2012 — a statistically insignificant difference. The takeaway: The economy really isn’t doing that much better. Before the recession began in late 2007, the poverty rate was just 12.3 percent.

The federal poverty level clocked in at $11,490 annual income per person in 2013, or $23,550 per four-person family — that’s 45 million people still living below that threshold.

That puts the median household income in the U.S. at $51,939, also comparable to last year. All races have seen a decline in median household income since about 2007, but black Americans are by far the worst off, with a median income of $34,598 this year.

Hispanic households were the only group that saw a boost between 2012 and 2013: Real median income for the group grew by 3.5 percent.

According to Heritage Foundation senior fellow Robert Rector, over 100 million people — that’s close to a third of the entire country — received help from at least one welfare program in 2013. That’s come at an average taxpayer cost of $9,000 per recipient. And the options for taxpayer-funded help have grown dramatically over the past year.

There’s also staggering number of Americans on welfare programs for health coverage. In a complementary survey out Tuesday, the Census found that in 2013, a whopping 17.3 percent of the country was covered by Medicaid — and that’s before many states’ Obamacare Medicaid expansions kick in this year.

Another 15.6 percent were covered by Medicare. That puts over a third of Americans on taxpayer-funded health insurance programs in 2013 — before Obamacare’s expansions.

That number will only grow in the coming years. Not only have 27 states and Washington, D.C. expanded their Medicaid programs, but the tally of Americans receiving federal subsidies to purchase private coverage in Obamacare exchanges will be added to the growing number of taxpayer-funded health insurance programs.

In all, 42 million Americans had no health insurance coverage for the duration of 2013. It’s no longer possible to tell whether that’s an improvement or not, however: the Census Bureau significantly changed its survey questions on health care this year, making it impossible to compare 2013 data to that from past years.

When it comes to tracking Obamacare’s effect on national health coverage numbers, there will be just one baseline year for comparison. Republicans have taken issue with the inconvenient timing of the Census Bureau’s changes.

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