The Truth About the Poverty Crisis

It isn't just a reflection of job loss. It's a sign of downward mobility

Harry Campbell for TIME

It's official: There are now more poor people in America than at any other time in the 52 years records have been kept. We knew that the 2010 poverty numbers, released by the Census Bureau on Sept. 13, weren't going to be good. They turned out to be, in the words of Brookings senior fellow Ron Haskins, "extraordinarily bad." More than 15% of Americans live below the poverty line. The total rose for the fourth consecutive year. For a family of four, poverty means scraping by on roughly $22,000 a year.

The new poverty crisis has emerged in part out of...

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