Moral Outrage
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Even More Americans in Poverty Than Previously Known

The number of poor people in the U.S. is millions higher than previously known, with 1 in 6 Americans — many of them 65 and older — struggling in poverty due to rising medical care and other costs, according to preliminary census figures released.

And government aid programs such as tax credits and food stamps kept many other people out of poverty.

Under a new revised census formula, overall poverty in 2009 stood at 15.7 percent, or 47.8 million people.

Across all demographic groups, Americans 65 and older sustained the largest increases in poverty under the revised formula — nearly doubling to 16.1 percent. As a whole, working-age adults 18-64 also saw increases in poverty, as well as whites and Hispanics.

The new formula will not replace the official poverty rate but will be published alongside the traditional figure this fall as a “supplement” for federal agencies and state governments to determine anti-poverty policies. Economists have long criticized the official poverty measure as inadequate because it only includes pretax cash income and does not account for medical, transportation and work expenses.

AP

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