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Census: About 1 in 6 are poor in U.S.

WASHINGTON -- The ranks of the nation's poor have swelled to a record 46.2 million -- nearly 1 in 6 Americans -- as the prolonged pain of the recession leaves millions still struggling and out of work. And the number of people without health insurance has reached 49.9 million, the most in more than two decades.

The figures are in a U.S. Census Bureau report, released Tuesday, that offers a somber snapshot of the economic well-being of U.S. households last year, when joblessness hovered above 9% for a second year. The rate still is 9.1% at the start of an election year that's sure to focus on the economy and President Barack Obama's leadership.

The overall poverty rate climbed from 14.3% last year to 15.1%, and the rate from 2007-10 rose faster than for any similar period since the early 1980s, when a crippling energy crisis amid government cutbacks contributed to inflation, spiraling interest rates and unemployment.

For last year, the official poverty level was an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four; the median household income was $49,445, down 2.3% from 2009.