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Census: New gauge shows 49.7 million poor in U.S.

WASHINGTON — The ranks of America's poor edged up last year to a high of 49.7 million, based on a new census measure that takes into account medical costs and work-related expenses.

The numbers released Wednesday by the Census Bureau are part of a newly developed supplemental poverty measure. Devised a year ago, this measure provides a fuller picture of poverty that the government thinks can be used to assess safety-net programs by factoring in living expenses and taxpayer-provided benefits that the official formula leaves out.

Based on the revised formula, the number of poor people exceeded the 49 million, or 16 percent of the population, who were living below the poverty line in 2010. That came as more people in the slowly improving economy picked up low-wage jobs last year but still struggled to pay living expenses. The revised poverty rate of 16.1 percent also is higher than the record 46.2 million, or 15 percent, that the government's official estimate reported in September.

California tops the list, followed by the District of Columbia, Arizona, Florida and Georgia.

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