Rich-Poor Gap Widens to Most Since 1967 as Income Falls [View all]
By Catherine Dodge and Mike Dorning - Sep 12, 2012 3:33 PM ET
A census report showing median household income fell last year puts a new focus on the biggest issue of the U.S. presidential election. And it’s likely to be deployed by both candidates to reinforce their campaign themes.
The U.S. Census Bureau figures released yesterday underscored the struggles of American families in a sputtering economic recovery. The report also showed the income gap between rich and poor people grew to the widest in more than 40 years in 2011 as the poverty rate remained at almost a two-decade high.
“Weirdly, I think you’re going to see both sides take these numbers and suggest it’s evidence why ‘I should be elected,’” said Steve Jarding, a lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former Democratic political consultant.
Median household income dropped 1.5 percent last year to $50,054 -- the lowest level since 1995 when adjusted for inflation -- while the proportion of Americans living in poverty was 15 percent, little changed from 2010. The 46.2 million people in poverty remained at the highest number in the 53 years since the Census Bureau has been collecting that statistic.