1 in 2 People Poor or Low Income? Not So Fast

Friday, 16 Dec 2011 12:12 PM

By Michael Kling

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Half of Americans are living in poverty or low income, according to widely reported the Census Bureau data. But that figure is being called into question.

 

News outlets reporting the figure seem to have misinterpreted Census Bureau data or failed to double check their numbers, say analysts at the Census Bureau district office in Los Angeles, according to NBC Los Angeles.

 

Research by NBCLA and Census Bureau analysts shows that about 13.8 percent of Americans, or just under 50 million, are below the poverty line, while an additional 18 percent, or 53.8 million, are counted as low income because they earn less than twice the poverty level.

 

That amounts to a total of 31.8 percent, or less than a third, of Americans who are below the poverty line or considered low income. Although that's still a large percentage, it's much less dramatic than the 50 percent widely reported by news outlets, including many TV news shows.

 

The Census Bureau was trying to show how many American households live in neighborhoods where over 20 percent of the population is in poverty. Census Bureau analysts theorize that some reporters may have mistakenly added together numbers that showed the percentages of the poor and low-income, according to NBCLA.

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