Poverty In America — by the numbers

Zachary Roth
Senior National Affairs Reporter
The Lookout

In the wake of the news last week that a record number of Americans now live in poverty, Pro Publica has put together a striking list of statistics that shed light on the scope of the problem. Here are a few that caught our eye:

• Official U.S. poverty rate in 2010:  15.1 percent

• Last time the poverty level was this high: 1993

• Poverty rate in the American suburbs: 11.8 percent, the highest since 1967.

• Poverty rate for African-Americans in 2010: 27.4 percent.

• Decline in median household income since before the recession: 6.4 percent

• The last time median household incomes have been this low: 1996

• Percentage of Americans who didn't have health care in 2010: 16.3 percent

Meanwhile, a new analysis shows that over the last decade, Americans have seen their average wages increase at only two of the highest levels of educational attainment: those who have matriculated with law-, medical-, or business-school degrees; and those with Ph.ds. All five of the other groups--those with masters degrees, college degrees, some college, high-school diplomas, and some high-school--have seen their wages fall.

Some say not to worry about any of this, though. As Fox News's Brit Hume asked this morning: "If inequality is at a very much higher level, who cares?"