Ecuador\'s poverty index fell to 28.6 percent in December 2011 from 32.8 percent over the same period in 2010, an official study said Tuesday. The report \"Poverty and Inequality\" was released by National Planning and Development Secretary Fander Falconi and the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC). At least 651,000 people are now above the poverty line in Ecuador, INEC director Byron Villacis said, adding there has been a \"significant reduction\" of nine percentage points since 2006, when the poverty index stood at 37.6 percent. The poverty line in Ecuador is 72 U.S. dollars monthly income per capita, according to the study. Poverty affects 17.4 percent, or 167,000, of the urban population, whereas it affects 50.9 percent, or some 2.48 million, of the rural population. Falconi attributed the falling poverty rate to the country\'s economic growth in the 4th quarter and an improving job market. Last year, Ecuador\'s unemployment rate stood at 5.1 percent, compared with 6.1 percent in 2010. Underemployment reached 44.2 percent in December 2011, compared with 47.1 percent in 2010. The full employment rate in urban areas was 49.9 percent in 2011, up from 45.6 percent in 2010.