Despite some signs that the economy is getting better, poverty is still a persistent threat for the majority of Americans, a new study by the AP has found. Survey data showed that 4 in 5 adults have struggled with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives. It also found that the number of the nation’s poor is at a record high—46.2 million, or 15% of the population.

The findings were based in part on research by John Iceland, author of Poverty in America: A Handbook, a seminal text on income inequality. UC Press will release a thoroughly revised third edition of the book this month. Poverty in America will help make sense of the new AP findings by examining why poverty remains pervasive, what it means to be poor in America today, which groups are most likely to be poor, the root causes of poverty, and the effects of policy on poverty.