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The nation’s poverty rate slipped in 2006 to 12.3 percent, or about 36.5 million people, from 12.6 percent, or 37 million people, in 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau reported this morning.

I found a helpful explanation of the shift in this CNNMoney story on the report:

The drop in the number of people living in poverty is not a statistically significant change, but the rate of decline is, and while it is the first drop since 2000, the poverty rate is still above the 11.7 percent rate during the last recession in 2001.

“To demonstrate long-term progress, poverty will need to drop below the 11.3 percent attained in 2000, the year before the recession began,” the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said Monday, before the report’s release.

Household income nationwide edged up 0.7 percent, to a median of $48,200, while the number of Americans living without health insurance rose by 2.2 million people to reach a total of 47 million.

We’ll have more updates, including local data, throughout the day.

KELLY BENNETT

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