DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The ranks of the nation’s poor swelled to nearly 1 in 6 people last year, reaching a new high as long-term unemployment woes left millions of Americans struggling and out of work. The number of uninsured edged up to 49.9 million, the biggest in over two decades.
The Census Bureau’s annual report released Tuesday offers a snapshot of the economic well-being of U.S. households for 2010, when joblessness hovered above 9 percent for a second year. It comes at a politically sensitive time for
The overall poverty rate climbed to 15.1 percent, or 46.2 million, up from 14.3 percent in 2009.
In Detroit, Focus: HOPE CEO William Jones said so many people have been in poverty for so long that it’s hard to know how the situation can be worse.
“As long as one person is living in poverty and one child going to bed hungry or without a good education, then we got a crisis and we have to treat it that way,” Jones told WWJ Newsradio 950.
Faith Fowler of Cass Community Social Services said the face of poverty in Michigan is getting younger, too.
New figures show the average age of a homeless person in Michigan is now ten years.
“Not only is it younger, but it’s people who were holding on before who have lost their jobs, homes, cars, and now are having to deal with it for the first time in their life and don’t have the resources,” Fowler said.
Fowler said she is also awaiting an “onslaught” of clients needing their help once they are kicked off the state welfare rolls.
Kathleen McKinley Goodrich, executive director of the Macomb County Warming Center, said even more people are calling for help, especially since Lansing moved to drop long-term welfare recipients from their roles.
“We’re already getting many, many calls from people who can’t pay their rent. We have been getting that all along, but now it’s increasing. People are scared,” she said.
Goodrich said the number of calls for help have at least doubled because of the cuts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.