The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Latest figures show enormous poverty during a recovery

Aug 30, 2004

The Bureau of the Census just issued its latest report on average income. To no one's surprise, the top 20% of the population gets half the nation's income. This is a big increase from the 44% of the nation's income the wealthy had 30 years ago, and it was stolen from the rest of the population. The bottom 20% saw their share of the nation's income go to a miserable 3.5%, down from 4.2% 30 years ago. Despite the administration's claims about an economic recovery, the poverty rate is worse, with 30 million people today living in poverty, according to the government.

By the government's own statistics, a family of four was living in poverty if it made below $18,810 for all of last year. In reality, for four people to have a roof over their head and food, twice that amount of money is barely enough. Millions more than 30 million are living on the edge.

Poverty is only too common in the world's wealthiest country. It was true in 2004, it was true in 1994, it was true in 1984. Sometimes the rate of poverty has gone up a little, sometimes it has gone down a little. But tens of millions of people have been living in poverty over all these decades.

The only time the poverty rate really fell was after working people fought back, demanding decent jobs at decent wages. Only then did corporations find they had jobs to fill, wages to increase and benefits to add.