On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau released data showing that the number of Americans living in poverty increased last year.
According to the government, 46.5 million U.S. residents fell below the poverty line in 2012, up from 46.2 million in 2011. Despite the increase, the nation’s poverty rate remained flat at 15%, Reuters noted.
The government defines poverty as an annual income of $23,492 or less for a family of four. Last year, the median household income in the U.S. was $51,017, but that was down slightly from $51,100 in the prior year.
Economic growth has remained stubbornly sluggish since the end of the recession in 2009. While mass layoffs have slowed, employers are not hiring new workers at levels needed to significantly reduce the nation’s unemployment rate.
The Census Bureau also repaired that the number of Americans who lack health insurance fell from 48.6 million in 2011, to 48 million last year. The decline was attributed to rising Medicare enrollment for seniors and additional government health insurance coverage for children.
Earlier this year a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that only 45% U.S. households had fully recovered from the recession, despite a surging stock market.