09/13/2011 10:32 EDT | Updated 11/13/2011 05:12 EST

U.S. poverty rate rises to 15.1 per cent, a 27-year high

WASHINGTON - The Census Bureau reports the number of Americans in poverty jumped to 15.1 per cent in 2010, a 27-year high.

About 46.2 million people, or nearly one in six, were in poverty. That's up from 43.6 million, or 14.3 per cent, in 2009. It was the highest level since 1983.

The number of people lacking health insurance increased to 49.9 million, a new high after revisions were made to 2009 figures.

Losses were due mostly to working-age Americans who lost employer-provided insurance in the weak economy.

Main provisions of the health overhaul don't take effect until 2014.

The statistics released Tuesday cover 2010, when U.S. unemployment averaged 9.6 per cent, up from 9.3 per cent the previous year.

The median — or midpoint — household income was $49,445, a 2.3 decline from 2009.