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Poverty to keep rising due to slow recovery: study

Two men talk while warming themselves by a fire in a homeless community near Lakewood, New Jersey
Two men talk while warming themselves by a fire in a homeless community near Lakewood, New Jersey

By Mary Wisniewski

(Reuters) - Nearly 10 million more Americans have been driven into poverty since the 2007-2009 recession began, and the number is expected to increase due to the slow pace of the recovery, according to a study released Wednesday by Indiana University.

The study found the number of Americans living in poverty grew to 46.2 million in 2010, up 27 percent from 36.5 million in 2006, the year before the start of the recession. During the same period, the U.S. population increased 3.3 percent.

The study uses 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data released last year plus other government numbers. Poverty was expected to increase again in 2011 due to the slow pace of economic recovery, the high rate of unemployment, and the long duration of spells of unemployment, the study found. The study was produced out of the university's School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Although the official rate of unemployment is declining, this was largely due to many adults giving up looking for a job, the report said. The ratio of employed people to working-age adults has improved only slightly since the recession ended in June 2009, the study found.

If the long-term unemployed lose their unemployment insurance benefits before the economy produces enough well-paying jobs, the ranks of the "new poor" will continue to swell steadily through 2017, the study found.

"Many of the 'new poor' are the former middle class," broadcaster Tavis Smiley, who requested the study, said in a statement. "Poor people are not moochers and welfare queens, as some would like you to believe."

The poverty line for an American family of four with two children is an income of $22,113 a year.

(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Daniel Trotta)

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