July 29, 2013 / 4:42 PM / 7 years ago

Mexico poverty rate eased to 45.5 percent: development agency

People, most of them homeless or unable to afford food, stand in line as volunteers hand out free dinners on New Year's Eve at a public square in downtown Mexico City December 31, 2011. REUTERS/Claudia Daut

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s poverty rate fell slightly between 2010 and 2012, dropping 0.6 percent to 53.3 million people, although half a million more people entered the ranks of the poor, the government’s social development agency Coneval said on Monday.

The data covers the final two years of former President Felipe Calderon’s administration, in which poverty increased to 45.5 percent of the population in 2012 from 42.6 percent at the end of 2006.

Coneval’s findings dent Calderon’s record and underline the challenges new President Enrique Pena Nieto faces in his vow to lift 15 million people out of poverty, bring jobs to the country’s poorest areas and unlock Mexico’s economic potential.

The percentage of Mexicans living in extreme poverty fell from 11.3 percent in 2010 to 9.8 percent in 2012, or 11.5 million people.

Coneval defined poverty as those surviving on no more than 2,329 pesos a month ($183) in cities, and 1,490 pesos a month in rural areas. The benchmark for extreme poverty was 1,125 pesos in cities and 800 pesos a month in the countryside.

Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Gabriel Stargardter and Richard Chang

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