I clipped a portion of an AFP story this morning, posting it here simply because I want those who read Bikehiker not to overlook it. You can't authentically "do Lent" without this breaking your heart and moving you to action.
The gulf between rich and poor in the United States is yawning wider than ever, and the number of extremely impoverished is at a three-decade high, a report out Saturday found.
Based on the latest available US census data from 2005, the McClatchy Newspapers analysis found that almost 16 million Americans live in "deep or severe poverty" defined as a family of four with two children earning less than 9,903 dollars -- one half the federal poverty line figure. For individuals the "deep poverty" threshold was an income under 5,080 dollars a year.
"The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005," the US newspaper chain reported. "That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period," it noted. The surge in poverty comes alongside an unusual economic expansion.
"Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind. At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries," the study found. "That helps explain why the median household income for working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years.
"These and other factors have helped push 43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty -- the highest rate since at least 1975. The share of poor Americans in deep poverty has climbed slowly but steadily over the last three decades," the report said...
Read the full story here.