For the last three decades, the national poverty rate has fluctuated between about 12 and 15 percent percent of the population, peaking in the wake of recessions and then rapidly falling as the economy recovered. In the aftermath of the most recent recession, however, the poverty rate remained elevated at 15 percent for three years in a row (2010 through 2012), diverging from the historical norm in its stability.
Data released last week also showed that the 2012 poverty rate in individual state rates ranged widely, from 8.1 percent in New Hampshire to 22.0 percent in Mississippi. The other three states with more than a fifth of their residents living in poverty were Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico.
About the Data
Poverty data for 2012 was released by the Census Bureau earlier this week as part of the annual social and economic supplement to the Current Population Survey.