3/15/2012 2:17 PM ET|
Fast-growing income gap in US
Statistics paint a picture of a widening divide between the rich and the poor, with incomes of the rich going up much more than those of everyone else.
If you're an "average" American, you earn close to $40,000 a year -- pretty good money compared with the rest of the world.
But recent data from a number of sources conclude that the average U.S. income, while solid among its peers around the world, still leaves many grappling to make ends meet. Additionally, the 2011 U.N. Human Development Report finds the gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. continuing to widen.
First, what seems to be good news: For 2010, the average U.S. income was $39,959, according to the Social Security Administration. However, the median income -- meaning half of Americans made more, half made less -- was substantially lower, at $26,364.
The U.N. analysis uses yet another measurement. That report puts the United States' gross national income per capita at $43,017, relatively high compared with its industrialized counterparts. The top 10 per capita countries are:
- Qatar, $107,721
- Lichtenstein, $83,717
- United Arab Emirates, $59,993
- Singapore, $52,569
- Luxembourg, $50,557
- Kuwait, $47,926
- Norway, $47,557
- Brunei, $45,753
- United States, $43,017
- The Netherlands, $36,402
Overall, the U.S. placed fourth in the U.N. study's Human Development Index, which measures three basic factors of human well-being: a long and healthy life, education and standard of living. Norway, Australia and the Netherlands occupy the top three spots.
The comprehensive U.N. study examines a number of factors, including income, environment and gender equality, with a focus on identifying programs and strategies that are effective in promoting well-being and prosperity.
What 'average' will buy
Unfortunately, in the U.S., an average $40,000 income often means living paycheck to paycheck and, perhaps more significant, living beyond your means. To that end, the Federal Reserve reported a nearly 10% jump in overall consumer debt in November 2011, to $2.48 trillion -- the biggest one-month percentage increase in overall debt in more than 10 years.
"The average American struggles," says Ronald Hill, a professor at Villanova University who has studied poverty worldwide. "They have an old car they're struggling to keep on the road, they may be late with rent payments, and they can't afford to send their kids to college. At $40,000 a year, they probably haven't been on a vacation in five years. They feel great restrictions."
Moreover, the U.N. study also says the growth in financial inequality in the United States easily outpaces its peers. Moving down the list, it's not until you get to Chile (No. 44 in the overall study) that there's a faster-growing gap between the wealthy and the poor.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average U.S. income, when adjusted for inflation, declined 1% between 1988 and 2008, while Americans making $380,000 or more saw their incomes grow 33%.
"What's striking about the United States is that, comparable to other countries of comparable income, the inequality in the United States is much wider than any other country," says William Orme, a spokesman for the U.N. report. "That's not only the result of increasing concentration of wealth at the top but the stagnation of income for the bottom 75% over the last 10 years. The U.S. is certainly not unique in having little real significant income growth, but the disparity is more acute."
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Anyone can make statistics say what they want. I trust the anti-U.S. UN as much as I trust Iran.
I didn't see in the article how their statistics were compiled and what they include.
Is it two wage earner families? Is it individual wage earners? Are they combined with two-wage earners? Do they include full time employee wages with part-time employees? All of nthose factors can affect the outcomes. Were they applied evenly?
A lot of small business owners business income is reported on their personal taxes. So while the numbers for a guy whose business takes in $250,000 looks good, after expenses he may only clear $50,000 personally. But to the ignorant - he's rich!
My wife and I together grossed less than $50,000 last year. Family of four. We have a house, fishing boat, and two cars. Took a vacation. (Granted we were able to use a cabin at no charge so that probably doesn't count)
But the deal is, we didn't go and pull every ounce of equity out of our house when the market went up so when it dropped, we are still good. We were able to maintain our bills and have a decent life.
Paid for doctor / dental visits as we went. Negotiated with them for better rates since we were paying completely out of pocket.
We have catastrophic health insurance in case someone needs surgery or gets seriously ill. got that discounted because we worked through the same insurance compnay that covers our home.
No matter what - "poor" in this country is a lot better than "poor" in 99% of the rest of the world.
I was astounded to find out that it really is this bad. The median is $26,364. Yikes. So I'm hopeful now that maybe ending exclusionary zoning may be possible. If not now then when? If not this president then who? I want to make sure people will have jobs and will pay social security taxes. I'm retired and living on $1,065/mo and I don't have health insurance. I'll get a pension when I'm 65 and I'm waiting until I'm 70 to collect social security (will account for half my income).
I'll get medicare when I'm 65 in 2.4 yrs. But then they'll want me to pay a monthly fee for part B. Medical mafia, your money or your life. Obamacare is better than pure medical capitalism. I'd like to just pay doctors an hourly wage so we wouldn't even have to process fee for service claims. Just let doctors be doctors. Pay for their education, they work in govt clinics/hospitals, no medical malpractice but just medical review boards to insure best practices and quality.
End exclusionary zoning and there never will be another mortgage crisis again. End exclusionary zoning and you'll be able to buy a house as easily and cheaply as you buy a car. It's really that simple. The housing market is not free so homes are not accurately priced to begin with. I went from paying $3,720/yr in lot rent to a mobile home park to paying $662/yr in property taxes once I was allowed to place my singlewide on a lot and pay property taxes like everyone else. I lived at Little Valley Estates near 8 Mile & Middlebelt (near Detroit). I was paying $310/mo in lot rent for a 26 ft by 60 ft lot. That extrapolates to $8,656/acre/month. After I lost my job at 59 in Oct 2008 I just retired (didn't even apply for unemployment). I was able to retire because I paid off my singlewide in less than 2 yrs. So I didn't flush a lot of money down the 30-yr mortgage toilet. If I had borrowed say $100K at 5% and paid it back over 30 yrs then I would have had to pay back $193K. My lifetime income was only $699K. I lived in apts for 20 yrs before buying my singlewide in Aug of 1991. By the time I moved my singlewide in May 2009 I had paid over $55K in lot rent over 18 yrs. I estimate that I could've saved about $45K if I just would've been allowed to place my singlewide on a lot and pay property taxes just like everyone else. But Farmington Hills, MI says your home has to be at least 24 ft wide and conform to existing housing. My singlewide was only 14 ft wide. I would've had to move 167 miles further north if I wanted to stay in Mi. Instead I moved my singlewide 300 miles south to a warmer climate about 55 miles east of Cincinnati. We have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In order to have life you need the necessities of life such as shelter. You should be free to choose that shelter. So the president is derelict in his duty to protect and defend the constitution. But he's just another Pontius Pilate politician. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent but when the crowd yelled 'Crucify Him' then that's what the crowd got. Everyone knows exclusionary zoning is wrong. I'd like the crowd, including Occupy etc, to stop supporting exclusionary zoning. Aren't you tired of being sheared of your wealth like sheep? At least I was able to move my home. I didn't have to leave it behind for someone to tear it down. 240,000 people left Detroit between 2000 and 2010. They left but the houses didn't. It would be a lot easier to vote with your feet if your house could be moved too. Building a singlewide is much less complicated than building a car. So Detroit or Flint could easily build a quality formaldehyde-free singlewide. A 30 footer would be about 360 sq ft. Need more room? Just buy two and connect them with a hallway. When baby comes along then add a third. When baby goes to college then his/her unit could go too as housing for life. Motor homes are very easy to move. So are travel trailers and all the other things you can see at an RV and camper show.
How can the price of gas be Obama's fault ? IF people look it up they will discover that the amount of oil that is available is the SAME as in 1997. The price makes the demand less. So, the price ought to be less than in 1997. IF we drilled 1,000 new wells tomorrow it would take 2 - 5 years for that oil to get to market. Don't worry about the Koran, learn Chinese instead. We are all worrying about the wrong people. Communism takes over from inside, and remember it IS Communist China. Destroy the middle class so the purchasing power of 200 million in this country will not be able to purchase, then see how many CEO's get bonuses, if there are any companies left to employ a CEO.
there will be a worker that are underpaid, that think that CEO's are overpaid!!!!
Your do nothing boring star athletes who takes your money for a drill sessions are overpaid as much if not more than the do nothing much CEO's who pays themselves 1000 times more than you do, you want them excluded because they are your heroes? Oh oh here comes the despicable idiots sheep again. almost time to delete my post
give the rich more tax breaks,that will create jobs...............
who is kidding who
the problems what we have here,they have the SAME problems in europe
the real problem here is CORPORATE GREED.
Ahh, more vapor statistics. Would you like cheddar or gouda with your ripple?
You must have traveled in different places than I have. I see way more people living on the streets in this country than I did anywhere in Europe. My definition of poor is also a little different than yours. My definition is no place to live, no food, no medical care and there are thousands of them out there. Now I realize that the republican idea is, if they have no food let them starve, if they can't afford to go to the doctor, let them die. Now if you travel to the far east, you really see poor people, because all the wealth is concentrated in a very few while everyone else fights over the scraps that are left. Unfortunately, that is the way we are heading in this country. When the 400 wealthiest in a country of 300 million hold 50% of the wealth, something is very wrong. Those people you seem so concerned about, that go to work every day, have not seen any increase in buying power in years as their wages have gone down or remained stagnant as prices continue to rise, while people making over $350,000 a year have seen their buying power increase 33%.
there will be a worker that are underpaid, that think that CEO's are overpaid!!!!
Have you ever traveled outside the US? We have the richest poor in the world. What passes for "poor" in this country still means you have a house, a car, a cell phone, an internet connection, food stamps, a color TV, etc. etc. I've been to places were the only things people own are the clothes on their back.
If there's any slaves in this country it's the people who go to work everyday that pay for the ever increasing entitlements that provided to the victim classes the democrats love to promote.
You sir have drank the koolaid of the democrat party. Everybodys a victim, we live in a terrible country and things aren't fair so let's screw the people who've worked hard, been successful and provided jobs for others. Ya that the ticket.
In the U.S. your promised the "pursuit" of happiness. It's not a guarantee and life's not fair.
PBS is such a reliable unbias source of news isn't it? <sarcasim off>.
I love vapor statistics. 25% of children are in poverty. 400 have more wealth, blah, blah, blah.
It's so hard to take folks like you seriously when your whole point of view is one of vicitmization and scapegoating that involves no personal responsibilities for ones lot in life.
In other words, they want the middleclass to merge with the poor, have no rights in the workplace, to a livable wage, protection from an unsafe work environment, the ability to sue their employer if they are harmed in an unsafe workplace, or protection if disabled or laid-off.
The Republicans want the American Dream to only be available to the wealthy (the new aristocrisy) while the middleclass (the new poor) are left to toil as wage-slaves and serfs.
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