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Expand chart
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

You might have heard that the poverty rate in America has finally fallen below its pre-recession level — but what has been less reported is that the number of Americans living in poverty is still higher than it was in 2007.

Why it matters: It's even higher than it was in 1964, when the War on Poverty began.

  • The number of Americans living in poverty — 38.1 million — is roughly the same as the population of California.
  • The poverty line for a family with 2 adults and 2 children is set at an annual income of $25,465.

Flashback: In January 1964, President Lyndon Johnson used his State of the Union address to launch an "unconditional war on poverty." The effort encompassed Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and expanded Social Security benefits.

  • The good news: Johnson's measures worked. The poverty rate in America fell from 19% in 1964 to just 11.1% in 1973.
  • The bad news: The poverty rate stopped falling in 1973, and in no year since then has it been that low. Meanwhile, thanks to the growing U.S. population, the absolute number of Americans in poverty has crept back to its early-1960s levels. It hit an all-time high of 46.3 million in 2010 — more than double the low point in 1973.

The bottom line: In the 1960s, inequality was a problem caused by the high prevalence of poverty. Today, it's much more about the wealth of the top 1%. Poverty, however, remains a huge problem in America.

Go deeper

Alabama's new congressional map rejected by federal judges

The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Federal judges on Monday night blocked Alabama's newly drawn congressional map and ordered the Republican-led State Legislature to create a new one that includes two districts, rather than the planned one.

Why it matters: "Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress," the panel of three judges wrote in their ruling.

Australian Open organizers reverse "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirt ban

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai during the 2020 Australian Open in Melbourne. Photo: Bai Xue/Xinhua via Getty Images

Australian Open organizers on Tuesday reversed a ban on t-shirts supporting Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai following widespread criticism.

Why it matters: Tennis Australia's announcement came less than 24 hours after the governing body defended the decision to ask fans last Friday to remove "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirts, citing ticket policy prohibiting political clothing, per the BBC.

FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly COVID antibody treatments

A coldbox containing monoclonal antibody treatments at a Regeneron clinic in Pembroke Pines, Florida, in August. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The FDA said Monday it's limiting the use of two monoclonal antibody therapies as COVID-19 treatments because data indicates they're "highly unlikely" to be effective against the dominant Omicron variant.

Driving the news: The FDA revised the authorizations for Regeneron and Eli Lilly "to limit their use to only when the patient is likely to have been infected with or exposed to a variant that is susceptible to these treatments," per a statement from the agency.