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The nation’s poverty rate rose for a third straight year in 2003 and the ranks of the uninsured swelled, the Census Bureau said Thursday in a report sure to fuel election-season debate over President Bush’s handling of the economy.
In releasing a massive collection of data describing the state of the economy in hundreds of states, counties and localities, the Census Bureau said the median household income was unchanged last year after adjusting for inflation, at about $43,300.
But a total of 35.9 million people, or 12.5 percent of the population, were living in poverty, up 1.3 million from 2002 when the rate was 12.1 percent.