The figure of 25.3 percent of U.S. Hispanics living below the poverty line in 2011 represents an improvement from the previous year, but remains well above pre-recession levels, the Census Bureau said Wednesday.

The bureau published figures on poverty, income and health coverage that highlight the slow pace of recovery from the economic crisis among the most disadvantaged, particularly minorities.

A total of 13.24 million Hispanics lived in poverty in 2011, compared with 13.52 million in 2010, when 26.5 percent of Latinos were living below the poverty line.

Only African Americans have worse poverty figures, with 27.6 percent of that group living below the threshold, 0.2 percent more than in 2010.

The Census Bureau has said that a couple with two children earning less than $22,800 per year or a couple with one child earning less than $18,000 are considered "poor."

Median household income for Hispanics was $38,624 last year, down from $38,818 the year before.

That contrasts with an overall national median household income of $50,054, rising to $52,214 for non-Hispanic whites.

Also, the report says that Hispanics are the most disadvantaged group in health matters, given that 30.1 percent lack health insurance, compared with 15.7 percent of the general population and 19.5 percent of African Americans.

Unemployment, which in 2011 was 11.2 percent for the Latino community, 3 percent higher than the national average, is the main variable affecting the group's relatively bad income, poverty and medical coverage figures.

The U.S. regions with the highest incidence of poverty are the South with 16 percent and the West with 15.8 percent.

In 2011, the year in which some parts of President Barack Obama's health care reform began to be implemented, there was a major decline in the number of people without health insurance, with the national figure falling from 16.3 percent to 15.7 percent.

Nevertheless, for those people who are not U.S. citizens the situation is much worse, with 44.2 percent lacking health insurance, equivalent to 9.74 million people.

Poverty in the United States continues at record levels despite the fact that the country has managed to pull out of the recession and is struggling to consolidate the economic recovery, as family incomes continue to decline.

The Census figures published on Wednesday show a fall of 8.1 percent in the average income of U.S. homes compared with 2007, before the financial crisis erupted, and a fall of 8.9 percent from the maximum level, which was reached in 1999.

The roughly 50 million Hispanics living in the United States are being affected particularly negatively by the economic crisis. EFE