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In September, the Census Bureau report released that 46.2 million Americans were living in poverty. That is 1 in every 6 U.S. citizens, an alarming number of people for a country listed as the world's richest. Today it was announced that 20.5 million Americans–1 in 15 persons–are the poorest of the poor by United States standards.

Extreme poverty in the United States is defined as those living at 50 percent or below the federal poverty level. The poverty level in 2010 was an anual income of $22,314 for a family of four. The income level of a family of four who is considered the poorest of poor is $11,157 or less.

Almost half of those living in poverty are living in extreme poverty. The poverty numbers are increasing across all areas of the country. When broken down by region, the South sees higher poverty in states like Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia; but high-poverty areas are also starting to grow to the industrial Midwest and Sun Belt areas.

Those living in high-poverty neighborhoods (where more than 40 percent of residents are below poverty) in a large metropolitan area saw a jump from 11.2 percent in 2000 to 15.1 percent in 2010.  In comparison, those who live in high-poverty neighborhoods in the suburbs rose by 41 percent compared to  2000.

Americans living in poverty might not be what you'd expect to see. Working-age Americans  - ages 18 to 64 - now represent nearly 3 out of 5 Americans who live in poverty.

More information will be released next week with additional demographics of exactly who is poverty in America. Stay tuned, this conversation is far from over.


Maegan Clark

Maegan Clark loves social media even more than Southern sweet tea. She is the Social Media Manager at Heifer International where she uses her skills digital marketing to improve the lives of those in need around the globe. Since working at Heifer, she has deepened her appreciation for the urgency with which we must end global hunger and poverty.