More than one in ten Americans, or 36.5 million people, live in poverty in the United States, with children and blacks the worst hit, an annual report by the US Census Bureau showed Tuesday.
According to the report, around 12.8 million children under the age of 18, or around one-third of the poor, existed in 2006 on incomes below the threshold used by the Census Bureau to determine who lives in poverty.
The number of children without health insurance swelled by 700,000 in 2006 compared with the previous year, according to the report, which also showed that the total number of Americans without health coverage had risen by three million to 47 million.
In percentage terms, three times more black people -- 24.3 percent -- lived in poverty than the 8.2 percent of white people who did, the report showed.
Last Mod: 29 Ağustos 2007, 12:17
The number of poor out of the total US population of 302 million was equivalent to the entire state of California -- paradoxically one of the richest states -- one-and-a-half times the population of Malaysia or nearly everyone in the central European nation of Poland living in poverty.
But the Census Bureau put a positive spin on the data, stressing findings that showed that incomes are rising and the overall poverty rate falling.
President George Bush said "more of our citizens are doing better in this economy, with continued rising incomes and more Americans pulling themselves out of poverty."
"The Census data show that income gains in 2006 were substantial and widespread across all income categories. And the largest percentage income gains occurred for people in the bottom 20 percent of incomes," Bush said.
But analysts and opposition political leaders argued that economic growth was benefiting only the already-haves, and slammed the reports findings, on children in particular, as unacceptable.
"I looked at the bottom 20 and 30 percent, and income is not rising," Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution think-tank told AFP.
"At the very most, I would say the story at the bottom is mixed but I certainly would not say we are improving either income or, certainly not, earnings at the bottom," he said.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the report showed the "American Dream is getting further out of reach" for millions.
She added that the rise in the number of children in poverty, and without health insurance, was unacceptable.
Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton stressed the need to "pass a Children's Health Insurance bill that strengthens and expands coverage for America's kids."
The legislation has been endorsed by Congress, but Bush has threatened to veto it.
Clinton's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barrack Obama, called it "a moral outrage that one in 10 American families live in poverty and 47 million Americans do not have health care."
The National Center for Children in Poverty expressed "extreme concern" at the report's findings that "there were 1.2 million more poor children in 2006 compared to 2000 ... and the number of children without health insurance increased" to 8.7 million.
Robert Greenstein, the head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which analyzes how federal and state budget decisions affect low-income Americans, said the report underscored inequalities in US society.
"The economic growth of the past few years has been very uneven, with the gains concentrated among those who already are the most well-off," he said
While the report showed that the median household income in the United States increased by 0.7 percent to 48,201 dollars (35,359 euros), the increase for black households was only 0.3 percent.
The increase was also skewed in favor of married couples, whose income rose by 2.2 percent, compared with a rise of 0.5 percent for households led by single mothers.
Robert Rector, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation, disputed that many of America's poor were living in poverty.
"If poverty means a lack of nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, then very few of the people identified as living 'in poverty' would, in fact, be characterized as poor," Rector said in a report published Monday.
One main cause of child poverty was the absence of the father from the household he said.
"If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, nearly three-quarters of the nation's impoverished youth would immediately be lifted out of poverty," said Rector.