Earning $45,000 or less annually per household is the U.S. Census Bureau's threshold for calling someone "low-income," and according to the bureau's latest figures, 48 percent of U.S. citizens fall into this category. 146.4 million U.S. citizens are now defined by their government as low-income -- with 49.1 million falling below the poverty line of $22,350 -- and it's a pretty troubling thought to think that you have about a one-in-two shot of meeting someone struggling to get by at random on the street. Of course, the Census Bureau's definitions of "low-income" and "poor" are necessarily arbitrary and only make sense in context. But that context doesn't make the news any rosier -- clearly the Great Recession has taken its toll. The AP explains:
Following the recession that began in late 2007, the share of working families who are low income has risen for three straight years to 31.2 percent, or 10.2 million. That proportion is the highest in at least a decade, up from 27 percent in 2002, according to a new analysis by the Working Poor Families Project and the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit research group based in Washington.