News / USA

US Income Disparity Highest Ever

The latest U.S. Census Bureau figures indicate an unprecedented income gap between the richest and poorest Americans. Those figures are causing concern among social workers the disparity could have an impact on the overall well-being of American society.

How'd you get so Rich
is the name of a cable TV program, starring comedienne Joan Rivers, that shows how some Americans got their wealth and what they have done with it. "Not one person that we interviewed did not have a great work ethic.  These people do not say, 'Boo-hoo, poor me, it is a recession and I cannot do it,'" she said.

There are no programs, however, called, "How'd You Get So Poor?"  Only statistics.  

The latest U.S. Census Bureau figures indicate the number of Americans in poverty is the highest in more than half a century.  At the same time, the Census Bureau says, the income gap between the rich and poor in the United States has been widening in recent years, reaching the greatest disparity ever in 2009.  

Economists say the recession is among the reasons for the growing ranks of the poor.  The director of the non-governmental National Center for Law and Economic Justice, Henry Freedman, says erosion of the middle class is another. "The elimination of most of those jobs that people could get in factories, our factories are not there so much anymore.  Other kinds of clerical work that is either being outsourced or is being replaced by technology that does it efficiently.  Those people are competing with people below them for work," he said.

New York University Associate Professor of Social Work Robert Hawkins says people in impoverished areas lack some of the fundamental opportunities enjoyed by the rich. "What we have there are people who did not and do not have opportunities.  So those folks cannot get an education, and so, what happens?  They cannot get a job," he said.

Hawkins says those caught in poverty cannot count on networking with equally poor friends or neighbors for opportunities, because none of them have any.  This, he adds, creates a vicious cycle of crime, teen pregnancy, chronic illness and early death.

Freedman says America's growing income gap could create a two-tiered society that loses its sense of community. "People struggling to get by, struggling to survive on the one hand, susceptible to demagoguery; and people on the other hand who put their resources to be separate from society, safe from society rather than participating fully in society," he said.

Robert Hawkins says the erosion of the middle class could affect the quality of those people the middle class has traditionally produced to teach, to enforce laws, to take care of the sick, and whose services also benefit the rich.  

The professor says the wealthy have increasing political influence in America, not because they are gaming the system, but because the poor are not using it to full advantage. "If low-income people want more political power, they have got to organize, they have got to vote.  That is the best and probably the only way," he said.

Hawkins says education and health are issues that need to be addressed to help the poor over the long term.  What is needed immediately, he says, is renewed spending by both rich and poor alike, because money in circulation is what helps create jobs.  

The problem, Hawkins notes, is that the poor have nothing to spend, and the rich have yet to overcome fears of economic uncertainty caused by the global economic recession.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid