The U.S. poverty rate has skyrocketed by a record amount under the Obama administration, with one out of seven Americans considered poor last year, according to a report Saturday.
The disturbing trend is an estimate of 2009 census data set for release on Thursday, The Associated Press reported.
Underscoring the depth of the recession, a projected 45 million people - or about 15% of the population - were poor last year. In 2008, 13.2% of the country lived in poverty.
The estimated 1.8 percentage-point increase in 2009 is the largest year-to-year uptick since the U.S. started calculating poverty figures in 1959. The previous high came during the 1980 national energy crisis, when the rate soared 1.3 percentage points to 13%.
In 2008, the federal government set the poverty level at $22,025 a year for a family of four.
The Associated Press based its projections on interviews with six census-tracking demographers.
The estimates follow Friday's White House news conference in which President Obama said a robust economy will eradicate poverty.
"The most important anti-poverty effort is growing the economy and making sure there are enough jobs out there," Obama said. "If we can grow the economy faster and create more jobs, then everybody is swept up into that virtuous cycle."
According to the demographers' projections, the working-age population took a hit in 2009. About 12.4% of Americans aged 18 to 64 were poor - up from 11.7% in 2008.
The 0.7 percentage-point jump is the largest since 1965.