In the first full year of the
recession, the nation's poverty rate climbed to 13.2 percent, up
from 12.5 percent in 2007, according to the annual report released
Thursday by the Census Bureau.
Coming in the middle of Congress'
health care reform battle, the data presents a stark picture of the
state of poverty and health care in the United States. The number of
Americans without health insurance rose to 46.3 million last year as
people began losing jobs and coverage in the current recession.
According to the report, 39.8 million residents lived below the
poverty line in 2008, which is the highest number of people living
below the poverty line since 1960.
Divided by region, the uninsured were
mostly likely to be found in the South (18.2 percent) and West (17.4 percent). Texas lead the nation with the highest percentage of
residents who are uninsured, at just over over 25 percent. The other
states rounding off the top five states with the highest average rate
of uninsured people include: New Mexico (23 percent), Florida (20.5
percent), Louisiana (20 percent), and Arizona (19.6 percent).
Analysts say that the increase in the
uninsured is due to the steady erosion of employer-provided health
insurance, which declined from 177.4 million to 176.3 million. In
contrast, the number covered by government health insurance such as
Medicaid, Medicare and the children's insurance program rose from 83.0
million to 87.4 million.