Poverty rate in 2010 highest in nation’s history, census data shows

While UC Berkeley held its annual Cal Career Fair Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau released grim statistics concerning the national rate of poverty.

According to the census report, more Americans were living in poverty during 2010 than any other time in the country’s history. Average wages for the American worker fell between 2009 and 2010, and the number of Americans living without health insurance rose by 900,000, climbing above the 50 million mark for the first time.

Not all the statistics cited in the report were so bleak, there was an increase in the number of young Americans — those ages 18 to 24 — covered by health insurance. This increase is due largely in part to President Obama’s healthcare reform law, which stipulates that children may remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26.

Poverty and jobs have dominated the rhetoric of the nation’s political landscape of late. Last Wednesday’s GOP National debate allowed the Republican candidates to outline their views on the state of jobs. The candidates seemed to echo a single sentiment: Obama and his administration are to blame.

Thursday, Obama fired back at the criticism — in a speech before a joint session of Congress — and outlined his new American Jobs Act.

“I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans — including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill,” Obama said in a statement.

As of July, the city of Berkeley’s unemployment rate was 10.5 percent, a 0.2 increase from the June rate. The national unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in July, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.