Researchers expected higher U.S. poverty rate

Posted by Paige Bresky --email

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) --- Some researchers say they were expecting a record gain in the U.S. poverty rate, but a report out today shows a slightly more than 1 percent jump to 14.3 percent.

Many demographers were predicting a rate as high as 15 percent based on last year's skyrocketing unemployment.

An analyst with the University of Maryland credits "the government safety net" for keeping people above the poverty line.

Some factors that kept the rate lower than expected: 2009 increases in Social Security payments, federal expansions of unemployment insurance and additional unemployment benefits.

Another likely factor was a record number of working mothers, who brought home paychecks after men lost their jobs.

The report says the ranks of working-age poor reached the highest level since at least 1965.