Bearing Witness

by Billy Shore

“Deep Poverty” is deeper than we thought

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


After writing the previous post about the failure of our political leaders to address poverty,  I asked our friend and colleague Stacy Dean, at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities for a fact check on the number of Americans living below half of the poverty line. As you’ll see from her note below, it is actually worse than I even conveyed. The 17 million living under $11,000 a year was a 2008 statistic The 2009 number is 19 million! I’m circulating the e-mail that she sent to me because it has some very useful links to data about poverty and “deep poverty” that you might want to keep as a resource.  Thanks to Stacy and her colleague Danilo Trisi for their always amazing responsiveness and quality work.

From: Danilo Trisi

Sent: Monday, January 10, 2011 2:10 PM

To: Stacy Dean; Arloc Sherman

Subject: RE: fact check

The latest available data shows that 19 million Americans lived below half the poverty line in 2009. (17 million Americans lived below half the poverty line in 2008.)

The numbers for 2009 are a record in terms of number of people and the percent of people below half the poverty line with data going back to 1975.

You can find the historical excel table here:

(Linked to from Table 22 in this page:

You might also find of interest our blog post on deep poverty which includes state by state numbers: