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September 17, 2015

Despite Job Gains, Little Movement in Poverty Numbers

Rising employment and higher minimum wages enacted in pockets of the country have failed to make much of a dent in the nation's poverty rate, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing Census Bureau data released Wednesday. The proportion of the population living in poverty last year was 14.8 percent, essentially unchanged from 2013.

The bureau's annual figures on income and poverty showed 46.7 million people living below the poverty line of $24,008 for a household of two adults and two children and $12,316 for a person under 65 living alone. Despite an increase in full-time, year-round workers, household income growth was flat for the third straight year.

"There are a lot of practices that have come in — some aided by technologies — that have allowed employers to cut back on their wage costs," said Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation, which supports research on social problems and policies.

A related census report showed significant gains in another indicator of economic well-being, with the number of Americans lacking health insurance declining by 8.8 million to 33 million people. The uninsured rate fell from 13.3 percent to 10.4 percent, reflecting the first full-year impact of the Affordable Care Act.