The "Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage Report" for year 2007 published this week states that around 37.3 million Americans lived in poverty last year, an increase from the 36.5 million people in 2006.
The report also indicates that children bear a disproportionate share of the burden as the poverty rate for under-18 Americans rose to 18 percent in 2007, up from 17.4 percent in 2006, compared with 11 percent of adults aged 18-64.
However, paradoxically, as the number of poor people rose, numbers without health insurance fell to 45.7 million people in 2007 from 47 million in 2006.
This is while the report added that the percentage of Americans on employer-based insurance -- the main source of health coverage for Americans -- fell from 59.7 percent in 2006 to 59.3 percent last year.
At present, the poverty threshold in the United States is set at $21,000 for a family of four, but experts believe that the official standard US poverty line, set up in the early 1960s, was out of date.
Health care is a key issue in the US presidential campaign, with an overwhelming majority of Americans -- 82 percent -- wanting the health care system overhauled, a survey released this month by the Commonwealth Fund showed.
During his presidency, George W. Bush twice vetoed legislation which would have expanded a popular children's health program, covering millions of children in low- and moderate-income families.