American poverty is climbing to rates not seen in nearly 50 years, according to a bipartisan survey of economic experts.
The Associated Press surveyed liberal, conservative, and nonpartisan experts on the economy.
They predict the latest census figures will show that poverty rose from 15.1 percent in 2010 to as high as 15.7 percent in 2011.
But even a modest increase would put American poverty at its highest level since 1965.
The Washington Post also reports the record-level spread of poverty stretches across many demographic groups.
Those groups now include suburban families and frustrated unemployed workers who are giving up on the job market.
"The issues aren't just with public benefits. We have some deep problems in the economy," Peter Edelman, director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy, told Washington Post reporters.
"I'm reluctant to say that we've gone back to where we were in the 1960s," Edelman said. "The programs we enacted make a big difference. The problem is that the tidal wave of low-wage jobs is dragging us down and the wage problem is not going to go away anytime soon."
Demographers also predict poverty will remain above 12.5 percent for many more years. That is higher than pre-recession levels.