off the charts
POLICY INSIGHT
BEYOND THE NUMBERS

Many Americans Face Poverty and Hardship During the Holiday Season

With the approach of the holidays, a time when Americans come together with family and friends to share the blessings of life, we thought that we’d take a moment to focus on those who are not quite so lucky by providing a snapshot of poverty and hardship in the United States.  Unfortunately, millions of Americans are having trouble affording basic necessities.  Below are the most current figures available in five important areas.
  • 1.6 million people were homeless in 2009 and spent at least part of the year in a shelter; nearly 325,000 of them were children.
  • 15 million people were unemployed as of November, 6 million of whom had been looking for work for more than half a year.
  • 44 million people were poor in 2009, 19 million of whom had incomes below half of the poverty line (half of the poverty line corresponds to an income of $5,478 for an individual and $10,977 for a family of four).
  • 50 million people lived in households that lacked access to adequate food at some point in 2009 because they didn’t have enough money for groceries.  Nearly 18 million people lived in households where one or more people had to skip meals or take other steps to reduce their food intake because of lack of resources.
  • 51 million people lacked health coverage in 2009.