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Census Bureau: 'Real' Poverty Level in US Higher Than Official Figures

  • VOA News

A pedestrian walks in front of a building in Newark, N.J., September 2013.
The U.S. government says one in six Americans lived at or below the poverty level last year - about 50 million people in total.

That figure is three million people more than were listed in a report two months ago. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the new figure is based on a revised formula that is more true-to-life because it includes people who received government benefits that helped lift them out of poverty.

An American family of four is officially designated as living in poverty if it earns less than $23,550 a year. But the revised figure looks at things like Social Security payments to the elderly that can put them above the official poverty line.

The U.S. economy is steadily improving. But officials say many working-age adults are still not able to find jobs that pay them enough to cover all their bills.

Congress already has cut food stamp benefits for poor Americans and is considering even more cuts to help balance the ailing federal budget.