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Census Report: Record Number in US Living Below Poverty Line

Data released Monday by the United States Census Bureau showed a record number of Americans were living in poverty in 2010.

The report, called the Supplemental Poverty Measure, estimated that 49.1 million people lived below the poverty line last year. That number is up from previous estimates of 46.6 million.

The report used slightly different measures to calculate the level in poverty in the country, according to reports. The official poverty measure will remain the standard, though, and will serve as a consistent comparison of poverty over time.

Nonetheless, the figure amounts to 16 percent of the population in the U.S, and that estimate is even higher in different demographics.

Poverty levels among Hispanics in the U.S. were 28.2 percent, according to the census report. More than a quarter of black Americans remained under the poverty line, as well.

The measure also took into account other factors in determining the poverty level, such as access to health insurance and cost of living differences in various regions of the country.

More than 30 percent of Americans without private health insurance lived below the poverty line, compared to just 7.5 percent of those who did have private insurance, the report said.

The measure was released as groups petition congressional leaders to keep programs for the poor in tact as they attempt to remove more than $1 trillion from the federal budget by the end of the year.

Faith groups and religious leaders have called on members of Congress to keep programs like food stamps, Medicaid and WIC.

“At a time when the gap between the rich and poor grows wider and wider, we believe faith and fairness call us to preserve vital lifelines for the most vulnerable and renew our shared investment in the common good,” said Washington Director Sandy Sorensen for Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ.

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