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Near poor live paycheck to paycheck

Nov. 19, 2011 at 10:50 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- More than half of the near poor in the United States are white, half live in homes headed by a married couple, and half live in the suburbs, researchers say.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Census Bureau released a new measure of poverty showing 51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line, but at the request of The New York Times the census conducted an additional analysis on those with somewhat higher incomes.

"Near poor," a common term but not one the government officially uses, was calculated with regional cost of living in mind. For example, a family of four with an income of up to $25,500 in rural North Dakota or $51,000 in Silicon Valley would fall in the near poor category, The New York Times reported.

This group has housing, cars and pays taxes, but a medical bill or unexpected home repair can put them way behind. Twenty-eight percent work full time, year round, defying the stereotypes of low-income families. They live paycheck to paycheck and one-quarter are insured, 42 percent have private insurance and paying for premiums might be part of the reason they can't get ahead, said Trudi J. Renwick, the bureau's chief poverty statistician.

About 100 million people, or one in three Americans, live either in poverty or in "near poverty," a term Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation objects to because it conjures levels of dire need like hunger and homelessness experienced by a minority even among those designated poor. He said the term "low income" is more accurate and less emotionally charged, The Times said.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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