If you thought the War on Poverty of the 1960s ended in victory, think again. Census figures for 2011 due this fall will show that U.S. poverty reached its highest level since 1965. It's not a hard prediction; the 2010 rate was 15.1 percent, and even a 0.1 percent rise would reach the threshold. Economists call it a slam dunk.
The disappearance of nearly half a century's gains against poverty is further testament to the devastation left by the financial crisis and the ensuing recession, particularly among those who might have worked in manufacturing or construction. Analysts estimate that some 47 million Americans, or a remarkable 1 in 6, were poor last year, and to qualify you had to meet a pretty stringent income standard. The official 2010 poverty level was $22,314 a year for a family of four, not counting food stamps and tax credits.