Thu Nov 3, 2011 2:0PM GMTReddit
The number of people in the US who are living in poverty has hit a new record. (file photo)
The number of Americans living below poverty level has hit a new record, reaching about 20.5 million, as a result of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
The number of Americans living in communities of extreme poverty has soared by one-third over the past decade, new census data shows, the Associated Press reported.
Defined as individuals living at 50 percent or less of the official poverty level, 6.7 percent of the US population -- or one in 15 people -- are considered to be the poorest of the poor.
The 6.7 percent share is the highest in the 35 years that the Census Bureau has maintained such records, surpassing previous highs in 2009 and 1993 of just over 6 percent.
Neighborhoods in which at least 40 percent are living in poverty have stretched over broader areas and have increased in suburbs twice as fast as in cities
Forty states across America and the District of Columbia had increases in the poorest poor since 2007, and none saw decreases.
The District of Columbia ranked highest at 10.7 percent, followed by Mississippi and New Mexico. Nevada had the biggest jump, rising from 4.6 percent to 7 percent.
The US recession began in 2007. More than a year after the recession officially ended in 2009, the US unemployment rate remains above 9 percent, and the poverty rate rose to 15.3 percent in 2010 from 14.3 percent in 2009.
The “incredibly unequal top-down distribution of wealth” in the US has formed an elite group who controls most aspects of the country's affluence, according to analysts.
The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement emerged on September 17 in the financial district of New York City to protest at a number of issues including the wars in the Middle East, US financial crisis, rising poverty, soaring unemployment, and high bonuses for Wall Street executives.