WASHINGTON – The ranks of America's poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century. That means gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s are being erased amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.
Census figures for 2011 will be released this fall in the weeks before the election.
The Associated Press surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks and academics, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7 percent.
Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, and suburbs are seeing increases in poverty.