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[Excerpt] In 2008, 39.8 million people were counted as poor in the United States—an increase of 2.6 million persons from 2007, and nearly the largest number of persons counted as poor since 1960. The poverty rate, or percent of the population considered poor under the official definition, was reported at 13.2%; up from 12.5% in 2007, and the highest rate since 1997. The recent increase in poverty reflects the worsened economic conditions since the onset of the economic recession in December 2007. Many expect poverty to rise further next year, and it will likely remain comparatively high even after the economy begins to recover. The incidence of poverty varies widely across the population according to age, education, labor force attachment, family living arrangements, and area of residence, among other factors. Under the official poverty definition, an average family of four was considered poor in 2008 if its pre-tax cash income for the year was below $22,025. This report will be updated on an annual basis, following release of U.S. Census Bureau annual income and poverty estimates.


Suggested Citation
Gabe, T. (2009). Poverty in the United States: 2008. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.