In the fifty years that the US government has been keeping poverty statistics, the latest figures are the worst. The latest  US Census Bureau data for 2009 shows that those who live in poverty make up 14.3% of the population, which is about 43.6 million people.

According to the Washington Post, the level of poverty increased in all racial groups except for Asians where the level stayed relatively stable.

This is the third successive year in which the poverty rate climbed. In 2008 the level was 13.2%.

With a total population at the time of about 305-310 million, 51 million of them had no health insurance. This was despite a huge leap in the number of people getting government backed insurance.

There are few jobs going and competition is fierce. Within the article are a couple of stories of highly qualified people now struggling.

According to Douglas Besherov of the University of Maryland the only thing keeping people above the pverty line is the government safety net.

Peter Edelman, a Georgetown University professor and co-director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy said "These numbers should be a wake-up call. These are deeply disturbing numbers."

Jason Perkins-Cohen of the Job Opportunities Task Force in Baltimore said that "In the decade I've been doing this work, this is a low point. We're getting a real feeling of desperation. For sheer numbers, it's a new, unhappy world."

Those providing help and food have also seen an increase in demand for their help. With Vickie Koth of the Good Shepherd Alliance saying that they had seen many more highly educated and once well heeled people coming through their doors.

All is not well with our cousins across the pond.

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