The number of Americans living in poverty jumped to 14.3% in 2009, with the ranks of working-age poor reaching the highest since at least 1965, according to the US Census Bureau.
About 43.6 million people, or one in seven, were in poverty, up from 39.8 million, or 13.2%, in 2008.
The number of people lacking health insurance rose from 46.3 million to 50.7 million, due mostly to the loss of employer-provided health insurance during the recession. Congress passed a health overhaul law earlier this year.
The statistics cover President Barack Obama's first year in office, when unemployment climbed to 10% in the months after the financial meltdown.
The median - or midpoint - household income was 49,777 US dollars (£31,869).