As if the times couldn’t get any more difficult, a U.S. Census report released on Wednesday showed the income gap between rich and poor people grew to its greatest extreme in more than 40 years while the poverty rate stayed at a 20-year high.
Median household income in 2011 dropped 1.5% to $50,054, down from $50,831 in 2010, while the number of people living in poverty, represented by a weighted-average threshold for a family of four on a $23,000 per year salary, was 15% , or 46.2 million people according to Bloomberg.
The household income level represents an 8.1% drop from 2007, and is nearly 9% below the peak reached in 1999, while the poverty level remained at its highest in 53 years, or since the Census Bureau began collecting such data.
On the flip side, the data showed the wealthiest Americans have benefited disproportionately since the beginning of the slow recovery that began in 2009. Average incomes for the bottom 80% of the U.S. population fell, while those for the top 20% rose. Of that 20%, the top 1% gained about a 6% increase in income.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle, not to mention the presidential candidates, sought to put their own spin on the numbers to bolster arguments during the campaign season.
Indeed, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email to Bloomberg “Mitt Romney’s pro-growth agenda will revive our economy.” Romney is running on a platform of tax cuts as a way to boost the economy.
Democrat’s instead focused on another release from the report which said the number of Americans who lack healthcare declined to 15.7% from 16.3% as people under the age of 26 took advantage of the 2010 health-care laws to climb aboard their parent’s healthcare plans.
-Marc Bastow, Assistant Editor, InvestorPlace.com