Census Finds Record Gap Between Rich and Poor

Young people hit hardest
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 28, 2010 6:48 AM CDT
A homeless person sits under blankets at a Wall Street subway station Wednesday, May 20, 2009 in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

(Newser) – The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession. The top-earning 20% of Americans—those making more than $100,000 each year—received 49.4% of all income generated in the US, compared with the 3.4% earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released Census figures.

That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968. "More than other countries, we have a very unequal income distribution, where compensation goes to the top in a winner-take-all economy," said a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor specializing in poverty. Lesser-skilled adults ages 18 to 34 had the largest jumps in poverty last year as employers kept or hired older workers for the dwindling jobs available.

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