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by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel, National Women's Law Center

The Census Bureau just released new data on poverty in the U.S. in 2010.  Though 2010 marked the first full year of the recovery that began when the recession officially ended in June 2009, the number of Americans living in poverty increased last year: the overall poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009. Unfortunately, the numbers aren’t looking any better for women and families:

  • Poverty among women – already much higher than poverty among men – climbed to 14.5 percent in 2010, the highest rate in 17 years. A 14.5 percent poverty rate means 17.2 million women were living in poverty in 2010, about 800,000 more than in 2009 (when the women’s poverty rate was 13.9 percent).
  • Nearly 44 percent of poor women (7.5 million) lived in extreme poverty last year, with incomes less than half of the federal poverty level. The extreme poverty rate among women rose from 5.9 percent in 2009 to 6.3 percent in 2010, the highest rate since the Census Bureau began recording this figure 22 years ago.
  • Poverty rates in 2010 were even higher for women of color – 25.6 percent for black women (up from 24.6 percent in 2009), and 25.0 percent for Hispanic women (up from 23.8 percent in 2009).
  • But wait, it gets worse: the poverty rate for single moms rose from 38.5 percent in 2009 to 40.7 percent in 2010.
  • The child poverty rate – already very high at 20.7 percent in 2009 – jumped to 22.0 percent last year, meaning more than one in five children was living in poverty. More than half of poor children lived in female-headed families in 2010.

More to come as we continue to analyze the new Census data. And check out NWLC’s upcoming posts to find out what happened to health insurance coverage and the wage gap.

Cross-posted from WomenStake

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