By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer Hope Yen, Associated Press Writer – Thu Sep 16, 7:10 pm ET
WASHINGTON – The ranks of the working-age poor climbed to the highest level since the 1960s as the recession threw millions of people out of work last year, leaving one in seven Americans in poverty.
The overall poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million people, the Census Bureau said Thursday in its annual report on the economic well-being of U.S. households. The report covers 2009, President Barack Obama’s first year in office.
The poverty rate increased from 13.2 percent, or 39.8 million people, in 2008.
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.
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.