US poverty rate hit 14.3 percent last year, up from 13.2 percent in 2008. The jump bring the number of the poor to its highest level since 1959, five years before the Johnson-era War on Poverty.
Unemployment rate watchers noted that summer is traditionally a slow season for hiring, but the economy continues to show signs of slow progress. The unemployment rate stayed at 9.5 percent in a jobs report issued Friday.
Much of the drop in the unemployment rate occurred because disappointed workers stopped looking for jobs.
Home prices were up in six cities last year, according to the Case Shiller index.
US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a 5.6 percent rate last quarter, the biggest economic expansion in six years. But economists say that doesn't augur a growth in jobs any time soon.
Forty percent of all unemployed Americans, at least 6 million, have been out of work more than six months. Many are so discouraged they have lost hope that a job exists for them.
Economic recovery in 2010 is likely to fall short on job growth. But higher jobless figures might not be a bad thing – if it signals people are looking for jobs again.
Job losses are driving more mortgage woes, as a record 9.6 percent of homeowners were delinquent in the third quarter, Mortgage Bankers Association reports.
Job losses in September amounted to 263,000 – 83,000 more than expected – pushing the unemployment rate up.
Consumer spending increased 1.3 percent in August, but a key reason was the 'cash for clunkers' program. Also, initial claims for unemployment rose last week, but the four-week average for claims fell slightly.