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article imageCensus reveals largest gap between rich and poor in US since 1967

By R. Francis Rubio     Sep 28, 2010 in Business
According to the census statistics released Tuesday average household incomes fell about 4 percent overall since the beginning of the recession in 2007.
The most recent census results show a big drop in the American median annual household income for the second year in a row, dropping more than $1,500 last year and down over $2,100 since the recession began.
At the beginning of the recession back in December of 2007, the median household income held at approximately $52,384 and then decreased slightly to $51,726 in 2008, however the latest census revealed that the average income fell to $50,221 in 2009.
In contrast the census shows a slight increase in annual income for the top 5 percent of households making more than $180,000 last year.
Those making over $100,000 a year account for 49.4 percent of all the nations income received per year which is in stark contrast to the 3.4 percent taken in by people at or below the poverty line.
Specializing in poverty University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Timothy Smeeding told the Associated Press "The income inequality is rising, and if we took into account tax data, it would be even more." adding, "More than other countries, we have a very unequal income distribution where compensation goes to the top in a winner-takes-all economy."
Senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation Rea Hederman jr. also talked to the AP, and agreed that the data showed a temped income for all families with poorer Americans taking the biggest hit, saying, "It's certainly going to take a while for people to recover."
The 2009 poverty level was set at $21,954 for a family of four but among the poorest of Americans making incomes less than half the poverty level their numbers rose to a record high of 6.3 percent last year.
Also child poverty rose dramatically since the last census ten years ago, going from 16 percent in 2000 to todays high of approximately 21 percent, although safety nets such as government-sponsored health insurance helped to offset the stress on families somewhat.
27.6 million more children are being helped by the Children Health Insurance Program which has jumped from 24 percent in the year 2000 to 37 percent today.
Older Americans over the age of 65 seem to be holding steady according to the census. The new data shows that the poverty rate has even gone down by one percentage point in the last ten years.
In the year 2000 the poverty level for seniors over the age of 65 hovered around 10 percent but according to the new findings that level is still high but has dropped ever so slightly to 9 percent, possibly due in part to the strengthening of Social Security over recent years.
The data also shows that lower-skilled adults between the ages of 18 and 34 may have been largest group affected in the past few years. As jobs started to dwindle employers tended to hire or keep on older workers as opposed to younger less experienced ones.
More about Census, Recession, Income, Smeeding
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