02-19-2017  10:42 pm      •     

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Middle-class families continued to suffer in the aftermath of the Great Recession, and the poverty rate fell slightly, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Wednesday.

Median household income fell to $50,054 in 2011, down 1.5% from a year earlier, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Wednesday. Income inequality widened, as the highest income echelon experienced a jump, while those in the middle saw incomes shrink.

Meanwhile, the national poverty rate eased to 15.0% in 2011, down slightly from 15.1% the year before. Some 46.2 million people fell below the poverty line last year, and one in five children were poor.

The poverty threshold for a family of four was $23,021.

Most experts were expecting an increase in poverty, but Census officials said an increase in the number of people working full time helped keep the rate in check.

Income inequality widens

Over the past year, the rich got richer, though the poor didn't get poorer. And those in the middle were pinched hard.

The top 1% saw their income grow by 6% in 2011, while the highest quintile of earners gained 1.6%, according to Census. But the middle 60% of Americans lost ground, falling between 1.6% and 1.9%. The poorest Americans did not see a significant change.

"A lot of the increase in inequality from 2010 to 2011 is driven by changes at the very top of the distribution," said David Johnson, chief of Census' social, economic, and housing statistics division.

The second and third quintile of Americans now take home only 23.8% of the nation's income, the lowest since the Johnson Administration, said Tim Smeeding, the director for the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"The big story is the squeeze in the middle- and lower-middle classes," he said. "They got whacked."

Some groups were hit harder than others. Those ages 35 to 44 and 55 to 64 had a drop in income, as did white and black Americans. Households in the West experienced a 4.1% decline in income.

Overall, median income has fallen 8.9% from its peak in 1999. And it's fallen 8.1% since 2007, just before the Great Recession began.

The number of men working full time, year-round increased by 1.7 million between 2010 and 2011, while the number of women rose by half a million.

This jump in people holding down full-time jobs may be the reason why poverty remained essentially the same. The number of workers in the lowest income group holding down full-time jobs soared 17.3% in 2011.

In the south, for instance, there were 1.23 million more people working last year, while the number of people in poverty fell by 740,000.

Hispanics were the only race to experience a decline in poverty, which fell to 25.3%, down from 26.5% a year earlier. Non-citizens saw a 2.5% decline in poverty.

But the poverty rate does not truly reflect the condition of poor Americans because it does not take into account roughly $900 billion in government assistance, said Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group.

"The entire welfare state is off the books," he said, noting that the nation hasn't made any progress in enabling Americans to become self-sufficient since the War on Poverty began under Johnson.

Poverty and income inequality have been in the spotlight during the 2012 election. Democrats are positioning themselves as the defenders of the middle class, while casting Republicans as caring only about the rich.

Republicans are looking to overhaul several safety net programs, including turning Medicaid and food stamps into block grants in hopes of relieving the federal government's fiscal burden. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, is trying to paint President Obama as the entitlement president. The Republican presidential candidate is accusing Obama of trying to dismantle the welfare-to-work system by allowing recipients to avoid the employment requirement.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all