WASHINGTON – The number of Americans living in poverty (search) increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured (search) swelled by 1.4 million, the Census Bureau (search) reported Thursday.
It was the third straight annual increase for both categories. While not unexpected, it was a double dose of bad economic news during a tight re-election campaign for President Bush.
Approximately 35.8 million people lived below the poverty line in 2003, or about 12.5 percent of the population, according to the bureau. That was up from 34.5 million, or 12.1 percent in 2002.
The rise was more dramatic for children. There were 12.9 million living in poverty last year, or 17.6 percent of the under-18 population. That was an increase of about 800,000 from 2002, when 16.7 percent of all children were in poverty.