Profile America — Sunday, March 16th. The first salvo in what we've come to know as the War on Poverty was fired on this date 50 years ago. Following President Lyndon Johnson's State of the Union call for tackling poverty in America, the Economic Opportunity Act was introduced in and passed by Congress, with 11 program components. The landmark legislation was signed into law in August. The poverty rate in 1965, at the implementation of the programs, was around 16 percent, down from some 22 percent in 1959. The poverty rate continued to fall to a low of 11.1 percent in 1973. The past four decades has seen that rate edge upward. Last September, the Census Bureau reported the official U.S. poverty rate was 15 percent, encompassing 46.5 million people. Profile America is in its17th year as a Public Service of the U.S. Census Bureau.
http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p60-245.pdf page 13
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/historical/people.html table 5