The number of the poor has swelled to almost one in six Americans last year, attributed mostly to the soaring rate of unemployment, while the number without health insurance rose to 49.9 million, the highest in more than two decades.

The U.S. Census Bureau also announced Tuesday that, in 2010, the median household income declined.

The nation's official poverty rate reached 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009, the third consecutive annual increase. This converts to 46.2 million people, up from 43.6 million in 2009, the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published. The official poverty line is determined at an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four.

Assessing the numbers by state, Mississippi had the highest share of poor people at 22.7 percent. Mississippi is followed by Louisiana, the District of Columbia, Georgia, New Mexico and Arizona, while New Hampshire had the lowest share, at 6.6 percent.

The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 49.0 million in 2009 to 49.9 million in 2010, while the percentage without coverage, 16.3 percent, was not statistically different from 2009.

The health revamp passed by the congress last year will not come into effect until 2014, though one aspect of it allowed young adults until age 26 to be covered under their parents' insurance.

Real median household income was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline from the 2009 median.

Based on the Gini Index, income figures showed a slight shift to more inequality, scoring 0.469. The Gini index is a measure of household income inequality; zero represents perfect income equality and 1 perfect inequality.

The Census Bureau noted that the unemployment benefit extension passed in 2009, which gave workers up to 99 weeks of payments after a layoff, lifted 3.2 million above the poverty line, reported the AP.

The bleak census announcement will provide political fodder for all in the presidential race, particularly when President Barack Obama is promoting a $447 billion plan for creating jobs which also includes payroll tax cut and an extension of unemployment benefits.

The complete report is available at www.census.gov.