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Census: Poverty rates rise for the third straight year as the South leads nation

Census bureau Ravaged by the recession and a stubborn jobs climate, the median household income in the U.S. dropped again in 2010 as 1 million more households reported no income earned and the nation’s poverty rate rose for the third straight year.

Those are the key findings of the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States, released on Tuesday. Poverty levels grew most in the South, which includes Florida, and was the only region to show significant increases in poverty rates -- from 15.7 percent and 17.6 million in 2009 to 6.9 percent in and 19.1 million in 2010. The data includes information only by region and state-specific data will be released in the coming week.

 Here are some highlights:

• Real median household income in 2010 was $49,445, a 2.3 percent drop from 2009. Since 2007, real median household income has dropped 6.4 percent.

• The nation’s poverty rate rose from 14.3 percent of the population to 15.1 percent. The Census Bureau reports that this is the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate, which measures incomes based on family size and composition. (A family of four in 2010 making $22,314 was considered in poverty.) It is the largest number in 52 years since the estimates have been published but is 7.3 percent lower than the rate reported in 1959.

• 11.7 percent of America’s families are in poverty – 9.2 million.

• Non-Hispanic whites had the lowest poverty rates among racial groups.

• More workers are joining the ranks of the impoverished. Since 2007, the number of full-time workers who are at the poverty rate rose from 5.4 million to 9.3 million in 2010.

• The poverty rate for children younger than 18 rose from 20.7 percent in 2009 to 22 percent in 2010.

• The number of people without health insurance rose 900,000 in 2010 to 49.9 million, a 16.3 percent rate. People with private health insurance declined from 64.5 percent to 64 percent as the percent of people covered by employer-provided health insurance declined from 56.1 percent to 55.3 percent. The percent of people who receive government health insurance increased from 30.6 percent to 31 percent. However, Medicaid numbers did not change significantly from 2009 to 2010 – remaining at 15.9 percent nationwide. But the number of people under age 24 with health insurance increased by 2 percent as the young adult coverage provisions of the President Obama's Affordable Care Act took effect.

• Women continue to earn significantly less than men. According to the data, the earnings of women who worked full-time, year round were 77 percent of that for men working full-time and year-round.

• More men have lost full-time earnings than women. Since 2007, the number of men working full-time with year-round earnings declined by 6.6 million while the number of women dropped by 2.8 million.

• More families are “doubling-up,” adding at least one additional adult who is not enrolled in school, bringing the total to 21.8 million families by spring of 2011.

• 5.9 million people ages 25-34 living in their parents’ household – 14.2 percent. That’s an increase of 2.4 percent over the rate in 2007 before the recession.