Half of America in Poverty — and It's Creeping Upward

Search form

Half of America in Poverty — and It's Creeping Upward

Half of America in Poverty — and It's Creeping Upward
Wed, 5/29/2013 - by Paul Buchheit
This article originally appeared on AlterNet

The Census Bureau has reported that 15% of Americans live in poverty. A shocking figure. But it's actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.

1.Almost Half of Americans Had NO Assets in 2009.

Analysis of Economic Policy Institute data shows that Mitt Romney's famous 47 percent, the alleged 'takers,' have taken nothing. Their debt exceeded their assets in 2009.

2.It's Even Worse Three Years Later.

Since the recession, the disparities have continued to grow. An OECD report states that "inequality has increased by more over the past three years to the end of 2010 than in the previous twelve," with the U.S. experiencing one of the widest gaps among OECD countries. The 30-year decline in wages has worsened since the recession, as low-wage jobs have replacedformerly secure middle-income positions.

3.Based on Wage Figures, Half of Americans Are in or Near Poverty.

The IRS reports that the highest wage in the bottom half of earners is about $34,000. To be eligible for food assistance, a family can earn up to 130% of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000 for a family of four.

Even the Census Bureau recognizes that its own figures under-represent the number of people in poverty. Its Supplemental Poverty Measure increases, by 50%, the number of Americans who earn between one-half and two times the poverty threshold.

4.Based on Household Expense Totals, Poverty is Creeping into the Top Half of America.

A family in the top half, making $60,000 per year, will have their income reduced by a total tax bill of about $15,000 ($3,000 for federal income tax and $12,000 for payroll, state and local taxes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau agree that food, housing, and transportation expenses will deduct another $30,000, and that total household expenditures will be about $50,000. That leaves nothing.

Nothing, that is, except debt. The median debt level rose to $75,600 in 2009, while the median family net worth, according to the Federal Reserve, dropped from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010.

5.Putting it in Perspective

Inequality is at its ugliest for the hungriest people. While food support was being targeted for cuts, just 20 rich Americansmade as much from their 2012 investments as the entire 2012 SNAP (food assistance) budget, which serves 47 million people.

And as Congress continues to cut life-sustaining programs, its members should note that their 400 friends on the Forbes list made more from their stock market gains last year than the total amount of the foodhousing and education budgets combined.

Arguments about poverty won't end. Neither should our efforts to uncover the awful truth.

Originally published by AlterNet

 

Article Tabs

Japan Self-Defense Forces, Tokyo protests, Japan security bill

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in front of Japanese parliament to protest against security bills they believe to be unconstitutional, allowing Japanese soldiers to fight overseas in defense of national interests.

Beirut protests, You Stink! movement

Demonstrators have gathered for weeks in downtown Beirut calling for the resignation of officials responsible for the current waste crisis and demanding new elections.

Malaysian protests, anti-corruption protests

People participating in the 34-hour protest slept in the streets overnight in an unusually calm demonstration of public outrage by the group Bersih, which means “clean” in Malay.

refugee crisis, E.U. refugee policy

It’s a strange feeling to see all those people marching away, like they're heading to some big concert.

Seattle school protests, income inequality, wealth inequality, Seattle school policies, Seattle transit inequality

We want all inequitable policies to be challenged.

Posted 6 days 16 hours ago

The lawsuit filed by the Center for Food Safety accuses the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of withholding information about GMOs for more than 13 years.

Posted 4 days 19 hours ago
police body cameras, police surveillance, Michael Brown, Stingray

The spread of body cameras into our schools may come as surprise to some, but it shouldn’t.

Posted 6 days 16 hours ago
Act Out!, Eleanor Goldfield

It’s our six-month anniversary and we’re celebrating with whistleblowers!

Posted 5 days 16 hours ago
rising homelessness, chronic homelessness, Los Angeles homeless, Poverty Matters, Section 8 federal housing

The number of people who are chronically homeless has overwhelmed the dwindling supply of affordable housing in southern California's sprawling metropolitan area.

Posted 4 days 19 hours ago
350.org, The Academy of Sciences, fossil fuel divestment

The Natural History Museum and 350.org launched a collaborative campaign calling on the country’s top science and natural history museums to dump all stocks in oil, coal and gas.

Guatemala protests, Otto Pérez Molina, #RenunciaYa, anti-corruption protests, CICIG, Guatemala massacres

Pressure to impeach President Otto Pérez Molina for his involvement in a major corruption scandal that has thrown the country into political crisis is mounting.

Corinthian Colleges, Bank of America

An invisible entity strongly influenced the messy unwinding of Corinthian Colleges: Bank of America.

pesticides, GMOs, Hawaii

Local doctors are in the crosshairs over whether corn that’s been genetically modified to resist pesticides is a source of prosperity or of birth defects and illnesses.

Sign Up