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Census: U.S. Poverty Rate Spikes, Nearly 50 Million Americans Affected

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File photo of a soup kitchen. (credit: Getty Images)

File photo of a soup kitchen. (credit: Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – As President Barack Obama is set to begin his second term, new statistics on America’s poverty rate indicate that nearly 50 million Americans, more than 16 percent of the population, are struggling to survive.

New figures released by the Census Bureau this week found a spike in poverty numbers last year, going from 49 million in 2010 to 49.7 million last year. The numbers may come as a surprise to Congress, which estimated in September that the poverty rate would drop to 46.2 million. One of the most startling findings showed that almost 20 percent of American children continue to live in poverty.

The Associated Press reports that the new figures are based on an updated formula devised by the Census Bureau to help give the government a better understanding for how to use safety-net programs.

The numbers found that Hispanics and people living in urban areas had a higher chance of struggling to make it financially. Poverty among full-time and part-time workers also saw a jump from its 2010 numbers.

Based on the formula implemented by the Census Bureau, California tops the list as the sate most likely to bring about poverty. The top five is rounded out by the District of Columbia, Arizona, Florida and Georgia.

“We’re seeing a very slow recovery, with increases in poverty among workers due to more new jobs which are low-wage,” Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison economist who specializes in poverty, told The Associated Press. “As a whole, the safety net is holding many people up, while California is struggling more because it’s relatively harder there to qualify for food stamps and other benefits.”

Adults in the age groups of 18 to 64 and 65 and older saw spikes in their poverty rates. Hispanics and Asians saw greater spikes than white people, according to the statistics. Black people saw a slight decrease in poverty, but still have a rate of 25.7 percent.

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(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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