According to most recent data collected by the U.S. Census, 1 in 6 Americans are living in poverty. The number of poor people in the country is 3 million higher than the official count.
Out-of-pocket medical costs and work related expenses are believed to be the main causes for more people entering the lower income bracket. The data is part of a new measure released by the Census, which is aimed at providing a fuller picture of poverty in the country.
Congress would have to agree to adopt the new data, which would result in a higher poverty rate from year to year, as well as higher government payouts for aid programs.
Based on the revised formula, the number of poor people in 2012 was 49.7 million, or 16 percent. That exceeds the record 46.5 million, or 15 percent, that was officially reported in September.
The latest numbers come as more working-age adults picked up low-wage jobs in the slowly improving economy but still struggled to pay living expenses. Americans 65 and older had the largest increases in poverty under the revised formula, from 9.1 percent to 14.8 percent, because of medical expenses such as Medicare premiums, deductibles and other costs not accounted for in the official rate.
Hispanic and Asian-Americans saw an increase in poverty, due to lower participation of immigrants and non-English speakers in government aid programs like food stamps and housing aid. Compared to the official rate, African-Americans and children saw a decline in poverty.
Last week, more than 47 million Americans who receive food stamps saw their benefits go down due to cuts in the program’s budget imposed by Congress.
California, District of Columbia, Nevada and Florida had the highest number of residents living in poverty.