In Illinois, about 1.8 million or 14 percent of all residents live in poverty, according to statistics released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau. At the national level, about 15 percent or 46 million Americans live in poverty. The federal government defines poverty based on the number of household members. For example, a family of four with a household income of less than $23,000 is deemed impoverished.
Progressives have attacked how poverty is determined, noting that the figure does not account for regional differences in the cost of living and increases in the price of basic needs, such as health care. Nonetheless, there is an apples-to-apples comparison between the latest numbers and poverty rates of previous years. These figures indicate that the poverty rate jumped during the recession and has yet to decline. Illinois' rate is basically the same as last year and 43 percent above what it was in 2007.