Nearly 36 Million Americans Live in Poverty
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some 1.3 million Americans slid into poverty in 2003 as the ranks of the poor rose 4 percent to 35.9 million, with children and blacks worse off than most, the U.S. government said on Thursday in a report sure to fuel Democratic criticism of President Bush.

Despite the economic recovery, the percentage of the U.S. population living in poverty rose for the third straight year to 12.5 percent — the highest since 1998 — from 12.1 percent in 2002, the Census Bureau said in its annual poverty report. The widely cited scorecard on the nation’s economy showed one-third of those in poverty were children.

The number of U.S. residents without health care coverage also rose by 1.4 million last year to 45 million, the highest level since 1999, and incomes were essentially stagnant, the Census Bureau said.

The poverty line is set at an annual income of $9,573 or less for an individual, or $18,660 for a family of four with two children. Under that measure, a family would spend about a third of its income on food. full article

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