Poverty level may be much higher than initially thought

New data from the National Academy of Science suggests that there are more empoverished Americans than initially thought New figures released by the National Academy of Science (NAS) indicate that one in six Americans are currently living in poverty, significantly higher than figures found in previous government studies.

The figures calculated by NAS find the current poverty rate to be 15.8 percent, or 47.4 million Americans. They are notably higher than previous figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau that show the unemployment rate to be at 13.2 percent, or 39.8 million Americans, according to the Associated Press.

According to the NAS figures 7.1 million, or 18.7 percent, of all senior citizens had been driven into poverty by increasing Medicare premiums and other expenses. Almost 14.3 percent, or 27 million, Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 also were found by the study to believing in poverty as they consolidate debts while handling transportation and child costs.

"We haven’t seen rates this high, especially for certain groups, for 25, 30 years," Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former White House and congressional advisor on welfare issues, told ABC News.

While the Census Bureau takes a firm stance on its poverty line at anyone below $22,050 for a family of four, the NAS findings adjust their poverty line to conditions surrounding families, such as where they live, their out-of-pocket-expenses, and other variable costs, ABC reported.