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US poverty rate highest since 1993

[ 2011-09-19 11:08]     字号 [] [] []  
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US poverty rate highest since 1993

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

A new report says the poverty rate in the United States last year was the highest since 1993. The official rate was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009.

Poverty meant yearly income, or earnings, of less than 22,300 dollars for a family of four.

The recession lasted from December of 2007 to June of 2009. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased more than two and a half percentage points.

The new findings did come as a surprise to Michael Ferrell of the Coalition for the Homeless in Washington, DC.

MICHAEL FERRELL: "Unless there's a turnaround within the economy in the very near future, it's most likely to get worse."

The Census Bureau says median household income fell more than two percent from 2009 to 2010. Median means half earned more and half earned less. Last year, the median income was about 49,000 dollars. The Census Bureau says more than 46 million people were living in poverty. It was the largest number since estimates began in 1959. They included more than one-fourth of blacks and Hispanics, 12 percent of Asians and about 10 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

Some economic measures were unchanged. Women in full-time, year-round jobs continued to earn an average of 77 percent as much as men did.

The number of people without health insurance rose from 49 million to almost 50 million last year. But the rate -- 16.3 percent -- was about the same as in 2009.

Most Americans who have health insurance get it through their employers. Elise Gould at the Economic Policy Institute says people age 18 to 24 are the least likely to get insurance plans through their employers. But she says young people are facing fewer barriers because of the nation's new health care law.

ELISE GOULD: "Health reform played a key role in stemming the fall of workplace coverage for young adults. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as health reform, included provisions that allowed young adults up to age 26 to secure health insurance coverage through their parents' employer-sponsored health insurance policies."

Experts say the biggest driving force of poverty is unemployment. About 14 million Americans are unemployed. Millions more have stopped looking for work or wish they could work more hours.

Las Vegas, Nevada, is famous for its casinos and hotels. But the city was hit hard by the recession and the housing market crash that helped cause it. Former construction worker Richard Scanlon is disabled, but he says many able-bodied friends are out of work.

RICHARD SCANLON: “Ten, 15 years ago, if you couldn't get a job in Vegas, you weren't looking for one. Now it's tough.”

Family Promise is a national group that helps people get jobs and housing. Director Terry Lindemann says Family Promise of Las Vegas works with religious organizations that offer short-term housing.

TERRY LINDEMANN: "We bring together Catholics, Protestants, Jewish congregations, Muslims, to open up their congregations at night to be overnight shelters."

Cassendra Waller is a mother of two. She got help to move into a new apartment.

CASSENDRA WALLER: "When you get a job and you're making a minimum wage, how do you pay a babysitter for two kids every day? I wound up homeless several times. And this is the worst I've seen the homeless in Vegas."

Stephen Brown is an economist with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He says the city is starting to get more visitors again. But he says that will not solve the bigger economic issues.

STEPHEN BROWN: "So what we really need is for the forces that were pushing population to Las Vegas in the past to resume. And that really means that the whole US economy needs to get moving again."

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

Hispanic:a US citizen or resident of Latin-American or Spanish descent 西班牙裔

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(来源:VOA 编辑:张若琼)