US Poverty Rate to Hit Highest Level Since 1965, Economists Say

Economists told the Associated Press they expect the official U.S. poverty rate to rise to its highest level since 1965 when 2011 figures are released.

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Economists, academics and think tank staffers expect the official U.S. poverty rate to rise to its highest level since 1965 when the Census Bureau releases its figures for 2011, the Associated Press reported. The figures come out in November.

The liberal, nonpartisan and conservative experts the AP surveyed forecast the poverty rate would rise from 15.1 percent in 2010 to as high as 15.7 percent. If the rate only increases by one-tenth of a percentage point to 15.2 percent, it will tie 1983’s poverty rate, which was the highest poverty rate since 1965, according to the AP.

The highest poverty rate on record — 22.4 percent — was measured in 1959, the AP reported.

According to the AP:

The 2010 poverty level was $22,314 for a family of four, and $11,139 for an individual, based on an official government calculation that includes only cash income, before tax deductions. It excludes capital gains or accumulated wealth, such as home ownership, as well as noncash aid such as food stamps and tax credits, which were expanded substantially under President Barack Obama's stimulus package.

In January, a study from Indiana University predicted that the numbers of poor people in the U.S. would continue to rise, in part because old jobs are being replaced by new, lower-paying jobs and because states are cutting their welfare budgets, the Guardian reported.

"One of the big surprises is that poverty in the United States is likely to continue to increase even as the economic recovery unfolds," John Graham, one of the authors of the report, “At Risk: America's Poor During and After the Great Recession,” told the Guardian.

"The unique feature of the great recession is not just the high rate of unemployment, but the long duration of unemployment that millions of Americans have experienced. [For] a lot of these long-term unemployed, the job that they had won't exist when they go back in to the labour market."