Census Data Show Increasing Income Disparities
Income Gap
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Elisa Jillson, Loaned Associate from Sidley & Austin LLP

Newly released official data confirm that Legal Aid's client community continues to struggle through this economic downturn. Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the income gap between the wealthiest and poorest Americans grew dramatically in 2011. As the Washington Post (and other media outlets) noted, income inequality spiked—the largest one-year increase in almost two decades. The top 20% of American households did well, earning 1.6% more last year than the previous year—and the top 5% did even better, earning 4.9% more.  At the same time that the wealthiest Americans experienced substantial income growth, the remaining 80% of American households saw no improvement—or even experienced declining income.  With a 2011 poverty rate of 15%, a staggering 46.2 million people live in poverty.

Washington, D.C. is no exception.  In fact, according to a report issued by the Census Bureau last year, income inequality is greater in the District than in any other state.

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