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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

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

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In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.

Del Rio bridge camp empty following Haitian migrant surge

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The last migrants camping under the Del Rio International Bridge, which connects Texas and Mexico, departed on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced during a White House press briefing.

Driving the news: Thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, had arrived to the makeshift camp after crossing the southern border seeking asylum. Roughly 1,800 migrants will now head to U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing centers.

White House says it expects federal contractors to be vaccinated by Dec. 8

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House said in new guidance Friday that it expects millions of federal contractors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus no later than Dec. 8.

Why it matters: Companies with federal contractors have been waiting for formal guidance from the White House before requiring those employees to get vaccinated, according to Reuters.