Poverty & Income Inequality Rise - Census American Community Survey

America sits on it's hands. We might get a few personal stories or faux paus empathetic comments from reporters on the never ending poverty, increasing homelessness, suicides and economic mayhem. In terms of any real action, we get diversion, such as wading into issues which have nothing to do with getting people back to work, which is a national crisis.

In the midst of a damning set of statistics from the Census Bureau, which goes by America with a yawn, Europe raises hell and takes to the streets in protest over austerity. Austerity is code speak to screw the middle classes and poor by dismantling social safety nets and job security.

Tens of thousands of people marched through Brussels on Wednesday in a day of protests across Europe against government austerity measures, which unions say will slow economic recovery and punish the poor.

Up to 5,000 protesters also marched in Warsaw, Spanish unions staged a general strike and trade unions called protests in 11 other capitals to oppose measures such as spending cuts and pension and labor market reforms.

Unions said they achieved their goal of bringing 100,000 people onto the streets of Brussels, but police put the figure at 56,000 and said 218 people were detained for minor offences.

From the Census American Community Survey, press release, just read through the list of damning statistics for what is happening to the U.S. middle class and American worker:

     2009 ACS Highlights

     Median Household Income

  • Real median household income in the United States fell between 2008 and 2009 — decreasing by 2.9 percent from $51,726 to $50,221.
  • Between 2008 and 2009, real median household income decreased in 34 states and increased in one: North Dakota.

     Poverty

  • Thirty-one states saw increases in both the number and percentage of people in poverty between 2008 and 2009.
  • No state had a statistically significant decline in either the number in poverty or the poverty rate.

     Industry and Occupation

  • Work hours in the United States fell by about 36 minutes per week from 39.0 hours in 2008 to 38.4 hours in 2009.
  • Work hours fell in 46 of the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas between 2008 and 2009.
  • Workers in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair occupations worked about
    63 minutes less per week in 2009 than in 2008.
  • Self-employed workers experienced a greater reduction in work hours between 2008 and 2009 than workers in other types of employment. Workers who were self-employed in their own unincorporated businesses worked 66 minutes less per week in 2009, while those self-employed in their own incorporated businesses worked 49 minutes less in 2009.

     Home Values

  • In 2009, the median property value for owner-occupied homes in the United States was $185,200.
  • After adjusting for inflation, the median property value decreased in the United States by 5.8 percent between 2008 and 2009.
  • Five of the 10 highest median property values among the 50 most populous metro areas were in California: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara ($638,300), San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont ($591,600), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana ($463,600), San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos ($417,700) and Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville ($298,000).
  • Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage change in home values in the 366 metro areas ranged from a decline of 34.0 percent in Merced, Calif., to an increase of 19.7 percent in Hattiesburg, Miss.

     Rental Housing Costs

  • Nationwide, nearly two in five renter households (42.5 percent) experienced housing costs that consumed 35 percent or more of their incomes.
  • Housing cost burdens ranged from a low of 23.2 percent of renting households in the Casper, Wyo., metro area to a high of 62.8 percent of renting households in the College Station-Bryan, Texas, metro area.
  • Double digit rental vacancy rates characterized the following 12 of the 50 most populous metro areas: Jacksonville, Fla.; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga; Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.; Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.; Houston-Sugarland-Baytown, Texas; Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.; Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.; and Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich.
  • Among the 50 most populous metro areas, the Pittsburgh, Pa., metro area had the lowest median gross rent ($643). Pittsburgh was followed by Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.; Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio, where rents were between $652 and $706. The St. Louis, Mo.-Ill., metro area rounded out the most affordable markets with a median gross rent of $732.
  • The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. metro area, with a gross rent of $1,414, was the most expensive rental market among the 50 most populous metro areas. Following San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, was the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif., metro area and the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., metro area, both with median gross rent of $1,303. The fourth highest median gross rent was in the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif., metro area ($1,224); the fifth highest median gross rent was in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif., metro area ($1,197). Rounding out the top seven most expensive metro areas were New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. ($1,125) and Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H. ($1,123), which were not significantly different from each other.

     Labor Force Participation

  • The labor force participation rate for men 16 to 24 decreased nationally from 61.5 percent in 2008 to 59.2 percent in 2009, while for women this age the rate decreased from 60.4 percent to 58.7 percent.
  • For men 25 to 54, the national labor force participation rate decreased from 88.5 percent in 2008 to 87.9 percent in 2009, while women in this group experienced an increase from 77.0 percent to 77.1 percent.
  • For men 55 and older, the national labor force participation rate remained unchanged (at 45.2 percent) from 2008 to 2009, while the rate for women increased from 32.8 percent to 33.2 percent.

     Education — Science and Technology

  • A new question in the 2009 American Community Survey asked respondents with bachelor's degrees about their undergraduate major:
  • The estimated number of people in the United States 25 and over with a bachelor's degree or higher was 56.3 million. Of this group, 20.5 million, or 36.4 percent, held at least one science and engineering degree.
  • The percentages of all bachelor's degrees in the science and engineering fields were 28 percent or less in Mississippi, North Dakota and Puerto Rico, and as high as 51 percent in the District of Columbia.

     Foreign-Born

  • According to the 2009 ACS, 38.5 million of the 307 million residents in the United States were foreign-born, representing 12.5 percent of the total population. In 2008, there were 38 million foreign-born in the United States, also making up 12.5 percent of the total population. The number of foreign-born in the United States increased between 2008 and 2009, in contrast to 2007-2008, when the number of foreign-born did not change significantly.

     The Older Population

  • People 60 and over were more likely than the total population to have a disability. In 2009, 32.4 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population 60 and over reported having a disability compared with 12.0 percent of the total civilian noninstitutionalized population.
  • Approximately one quarter (27.1 percent) of the population 60 and over reported being in the labor force, an increase from 26.7 percent in 2008.

To make matters worse, during the great recession the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. There is a record gap between the rich and the poor, with distribution ratios of 14.5 to 1.

The top-earning 20 percent of Americans -- those making more than $100,000 each year -- received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent 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.

A different measure, the international Gini index, found U.S. income inequality at its highest level since the Census Bureau began tracking household income in 1967. The U.S. also has the greatest disparity among Western industrialized nations.

Gets better, think we do not need a progressive benefits structure? Bloomberg reports 3,000 millionaires received unemployment compensation in 2008.

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Comments

US inequality

Re American inequality
My hypothesis (as I am from New Zealand) is that America is following similar policies to that in NZ – a major difference though is that while NZ discriminates on the grounds of social status at birth (see UK social class discrimination) the US discriminates re socio-economic status (wealth) but the latter has its origins not in the Corporations but rather the bureaucracy. NZ, the US and many other States are ‘going nowhere’ – ‘freedom and democracy’ is now going in reverse as more countries are becoming authoritarian. Who is going to take risks when countries are going nowhere and in fact there seems to be increasing internal conflict. There are a number in the establishment who know what the problem is but are too afraid to ‘speak out’ about it. While I can only be specific re NZ I think many States have a similar problem. Essentially, NZ’s problem is that there are many human rights omissions in our human rights law (the source is the global elites at the UN who design these instruments) – so it is not just our fault – but it highly favors the countries ‘sacred cows’ and for obvious reasons people do not want to discuss it. Much can be found in my book, ‘Freedom from our social prisons: the rise of economic, social and cultural rights’, Lexington Books, which is on the UN portal website despite my harsh criticism of the UN. I think the US should look at what is happening to small/med business (see the American Small Business League website and how federal contracts are been diverted to big business on a massive scale). In NZ I am promoting a radical, ideas-driven bottom-up development (an entrepreneurial/ethical human rights culture) which is part of the ethical approach I take to human rights, development and globalization but because it really shakes the status quo and people will only face the truth as a last possible resort they simply do not want to know – its far too unsafe. But this is very short, sighted better to go through the suffering of facing the truth and making changes than having it forced on us very likely after enormous people damage. I am Anthony Ravlich, Chairperson of the Human Rights Council Inc (New Zealand) ph: (0064) (09) 940 9658. And remember, the truth will set you free as long as you are not too afraid to be free and so too afraid of the truth.

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It should be clear to even

It should be clear to even the most casual rich observer that we need to bring back some regulation on wages. Minimum wage should be the living wage (http://www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu/). There should also be a maximum wage that depends on a fairly assessed value of contribution to the firm and to the economy as a whole. (I have not seen a good calculator for that.) A 2009 analysis (America on the Brink by B. Judson) reveals that hedge fund managers bring home some of the highest income, but their value to the economy is clearly not equivalent.
Similarly, housing speculators should be outlawed - along with any other speculator producing bubbles for assets that are necessary to life - e.g. food. These types of assets do not and cannot belong to the free market, because "Necessitous men are not free". We should also ensure that we do not hire a Fed chairman in future who cannot distinguish an asset bubble until it has burst - like the illustrious Alan Greenspan.

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