Inequality in America is stretched wider

The US Census Bureau’s report – Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the US: 2009 says the number of people in poverty increased by nearly 4m – to 43.6m – between 2008 and 2009.  One in seven Americans was living in poverty in 2009 with the level of working-age poor the highest since the 1960s. The bureau defines poverty as any family of four living on less than $21,954 a year (or $15 a day per person).

The official US poverty rate in 2009 rose to 14.3% from 13.2% in 2008. In 2009, 43.6 million Americans lived in poverty, up from 39.8 million the year before, the third consecutive increase.  The poverty figure is not a relative measure as many in Europe are, but looks simply at the amount of money going into a household.

Meanwhile, new figures showed home foreclosures in August hit the highest level since the mortgage crisis began.  Banks repossessed 95,364 properties in August, up 3% from July and an increase of 25% from August 2009, said RealtyTrac, a company which charts the national picture.

“Last year we saw the depths of the recession, including historic losses in employment not witnessed since the Great Depression” said US President Barack Obama.  It is noteworthy that employment is highlighted because it is here that progress has been so slow.

The current debate to maintain tax holidays for the rich (supported by the “trickle down effect theory”) rather than extend benefits to the poor seems ludicrous – giving money to poor people is the quickest way to get an economy going because they spend it, this raising consumption and thus the demand for jobs.  Giving money to rich people does nothing because they just hoard more.

BBC Number of Americans living in poverty ‘increases by 4m’ US jobs recovery ‘painfully slow’