Record Number of Americans Living in Poverty

While the Census Bureau reported that there are 46.6 million people, or 15.1 percent of Americans, living poverty in 2010 under the decades-old official measure that considers only food costs and before-tax income, a new formula is trying to provide a fuller picture. The Associated Press reported on November 7, 2011, that a supplemental measure from the Census Bureau shows a record 49.1 million Americans, or 16 percent, lived in poverty in 2010.

With millions of Americans needing foreclosure help or considering bankruptcy, the new measure takes a variety of expenses into consideration, including food, shelter, clothing and utilities, as well as accounting for different sources of income like food stamps and housing subsidies. According to the AP, Americans 65 or older sustained the largest increases in poverty when broken down by groups under the revised poverty formula, nearly doubling to 15.9 percent. Medical expenses such as rising Medicare premiums, deductibles and expenses for prescription drugs are not accounted for in the official rate.

The AP noted that economists and anti-poverty experts "continue to differ widely on how best to calculate poverty," and the Census Bureau acknowledged that its new measure remains a "work in progress." You do not need to be formally recognized as living in poverty in order to pass the bankruptcy means test, but our Chicago bankruptcy lawyer can show you how filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy could very well be the fresh start you need to get back on your feet.

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