A record-breaking 49.7 million Americans–one in six–now live below the federal poverty line, newly revised 2012 census data shows.
The new figures, which take into account medical and living expenses, are three million higher than the government’s official number. The Obama Administration instituted the new metric two years ago but has not replaced the original methodology, which has been used for over a half-century. Only Congress could change the government’s official calculation method.
“When so many citizens are worse off year after year, with food insecurity and health care insecurity, there’s no way you can say that’s a successful economy,” Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz told the Associated Press.
Critics say the White House’s new metric is an attempt to justify the dramatic expansion of welfare services seen under President Barack Obama. The new measurement, for example, finds that without food stamps, the overall poverty rate would increase from 16 to 17.6 percent.
“Among states, California had the highest share of poor people, hurt in part by high housing costs and large numbers of immigrants, followed by the District of Columbia, Nevada, and Florida,” reports the Daily Mail.
In September, a Census Bureau report revealed that the typical American family now earns less than it did in 1989. In 1989, median household income was $51,681 (in current dollars). In 2012, median household income was $51,017.