Gap between rich and poor grows
The gap between rich and poor Americans grew in 2011 as the poverty rate remained at almost a two-decade high.
The U.S. Census Bureau released figures the week of the equinox that showed household income fell, underscoring a sputtering economic recovery that's at the heart of the presidential campaign.
While Minnesota's citizens had a 12 percent poverty rate overall, and folks in the 7th Congressional District had 13 percent, Native Americans in Minnesota showed a 41 percent poverty rate, 48 percent in the 7th District, and housing, employment and other measures in Red Lake reflect that greater sensitivity. Women and children likewise were more impacted than the rest of the community. Median household income dropped, while the number of
people living in poverty remained at the highest level in the 53 years since the Census Bureau has been collecting that statistic.
"The recession is going to have long-term effects on the poverty rate, which our projections suggest is going to hang high for many years to come," said Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington
who studies poverty issues.
Brookings had projected a still higher rate than what occurred, and the lower rate may be a result of unemployment benefits keeping many people out of poverty, Sawhill said. RESULTS, a citizens advocacy group, says millions nationwide were also saved from poverty by the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, two features of U.S. federal taxes which favor low-income people. These two features would suffer cuts if nothing is passed in Congress to maintain them. Similar cuts are proposed for Head Start and the Child Care and Development Grant under initiatives to cut federal spending.
Americans' economic struggles are the focus of November's presidential election. Republican Mitt Romney argues that people are worse off because of President Barack Obama¹s economic policies. Obama counters that Romney would push programs that benefit the wealthiest at the expense of the middle-income and those striving to get out of poverty.