News / USA

Study: One in Seven Americans Lives in Poverty

New parents Garrett Goudeseune, 25, Laura Fritz, 27, left, with their daughter Adalade Goudeseune, are at the Jefferson Action Center, an assistance center in the Denver. The couple has struggled to find work, now relying on government assistance to cover food and $650 rent for their family, July 16, 2012.
New parents Garrett Goudeseune, 25, Laura Fritz, 27, left, with their daughter Adalade Goudeseune, are at the Jefferson Action Center, an assistance center in the Denver. The couple has struggled to find work, now relying on government assistance to cover food and $650 rent for their family, July 16, 2012.
More than 46 million people were living in poverty in the United States last year as the lingering effects of the financial crisis boosted unemployment. Government experts say family incomes fell, but more people were covered by health insurance.  

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report released Wednesday, about about 15 percent of people in the United States were living in poverty in 2011. The Census Bureau defines "poverty" as having an income below $23,021 a year for a family of four. Median U.S. incomes declined 1.5 percent last year to $50,054.

Washington-based Brookings Institution scholar Ron Haskins blames persistent poverty on unemployment that rose during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, and remains stubbornly high.  

"It sure is taking a long time for the jobs to come back," said Haskins.
Even people like Kate, who has a job, but did not want her last name used, face difficult financial problems.  

"I don't know what we are going to do in the future. I don't know, we live, you know, it's a day-by-day situation," she said.

Kate, her husband and three children live near Washington, D.C. She is a waitress. Her husband was a restaurant manager until an injury left him with broken bones and a concussion. Kate said he will be out of work for perhaps a year and workers compensation - a kind of insurance that helps people injured on the job - pays only 60 percent of what he made at work.

"When he got injured, we started struggling and struggling," she said.
Kate gets health insurance through her employer, but has to pay for it. Tens of millions of Americans receive health insurance through their work. The share of the cost paid by employers varies widely.   

Wednesday's report shows that the number of people not covered by any kind of health insurance declined slightly last year to 49 million.  Government-run plans covered more people, and a new law allows families to use a parent's health insurance to cover children until they are 26 years old.   

Rising health care costs in recent years have made health insurance a major issue when workers negotiate compensation with companies.  

Kate says her situation would go from difficult to desperate without health insurance. She also hopes her husband can quickly regain his health and bring home a paycheck.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid