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Over 46 million US citizens live in poverty

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People wait in line with boxes to carry food from a food bank in northern New York in June.

New official data show that the US government has failed to reduce the level of poverty in the country amid weak economic growth.

The US Census Bureau said in an annual report on Wednesday that 46.2 million Americans are still living below the poverty line.

The overall poverty rate stood at 15 percent in 2011, statistically unchanged from the 15.1 percent in the previous year.

According to the report, median US income declined 1.5 percent in 2011 compared to 2010.

Last year, the poverty threshold for a household of two adults and two children was $22,811.

The report also said the gap between rich and poor increased last year with joblessness persistently high.

Bruce Meyer, an economist at the University of Chicago, said it was disappointing that poverty levels did not improve.

Meyer described it as a sign of lingering problems in the labor market even with recent declines in unemployment.

“The drop in the unemployment rate has been due in significant part to workers leaving the labor force, because they are discouraged, back in school, taking care of family or other reasons,” he said.

The poverty level is based on a government calculation that includes only income before tax deductions.


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