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by Lisa A. Fraser

Oct 04, 2011

The poverty rate citywide has risen in the last year, reports the United States Census Bureau, with one in five New Yorkers now living below the poverty line.

According to the Census, the one in five translates to a family of three earning less than $18,000 a year.

The annual report, called the American Community Survey (ACS) and issued for the year 2010, also states that the poverty rate increased from 18.7 percent in 2009 to 20.1 percent in 2010.

More than 1.6 million New Yorkers live below the federal poverty line of $18,310 for a family of three – the highest level since the year 2000.

While nationally, the median household income declined 2.3 percent to $49,445 from 2010 to 2011, in New York City, median household income dropped 4.6 percent to $48,743.

The report also reveals that racial disparities continue to be high. Hispanic and African American households earned less than what caucasian households earn, with Hispanics earning a little bit more than half the income of white households and blacks earning 60 percent of white households.

Given the high cost of living in New York, the numbers are unsettling. The federal poverty level is set at $10,830 for a family of one, but a more accurate measure of poverty is the New York Self-Sufficiency Standard, which takes into account county-by-county costs of housing, child care, food, health care, transportation, and other factors.

The New York City Self-Sufficiency Standard sets the poverty level by borough, ranging from $23,394 in the Bronx to $50,570 in Manhattan South for an individual.

This could mean that the number of New Yorkers struggling to make a living is even higher than the Census estimates.

“With more than 20 percent of New Yorkers living in poverty and nearly half of these individuals working full or part-time jobs, we need bold action from local, state and federal government to create quality jobs,” said Matt Ryan, executive director of ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York, in a statement.

The report also shows that one in four New Yorkers lives in a household that can't afford enough food...

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Also appeared in the Brooklyn Downtown Star.