We’re proud to collaborate with The Nation in sharing insightful journalism related to income inequality in America. The following is an excerpt from Nation contributor Greg Kaufmann’s “This Week in Poverty” column.
U.S. poverty (less than $17,916 for a family of three): 46.2 million people, 15.1 percent
Children in poverty: 16.1 million, 22 percent of all children, including 39 percent of African-American children and 34 percent of Latino children. Poorest age group in country.
Deep poverty (less than $11,510 for a family of four): 20.4 million people, 1 in 15 Americans, including more than 15 million women and children
People who would have been in poverty if not for Social Security, 2011: 67.6 million
(program kept 21.4 million people out of poverty)
People in the U.S. experiencing poverty by age 65: Roughly half
Gender gap, 2011: Women 34 percent more likely to be poor than men
Gender gap, 2010: Women 29 percent more likely to be poor than men
Twice the poverty level (less than $46,042 for a family of four): 106 million people, more than 1 in 3 Americans MORE
Earlier this week, a Senate panel investigated how Apple avoided billions in taxes through a web of offshore subsidiaries “so complex it spanned continents and went beyond anything most experts had ever seen.” Although the company may have achieved, in the words of Sen. Carl Levin, the “holy grail of tax avoidance,” senators didn’t accuse Apple of doing anything illegal and it is by no means alone in its use of loopholes and gimmicks to avoid paying taxes.
Here’s a list, topped by Apple, of 10 companies that increased their offshore holdings in the past year. MORE
Earlier this month, the Census Bureau reported that more black Americans voted in the 2012 election than any other group, including white Americans. The Associated Press called it a “tipping point” of historic proportions. A new study out this week contends that black male turnout was even higher than the Census reported.
Nearly all U.S. states have laws barring those convicted of a felony from voting while serving time in prison. In 11 states, some felons lose their voting rights for life; the ACLU puts the number of felons currently unable to vote at 5.3 million.
The Census measures voter turnout by counting all individuals of voting age — but nearly one in 10 black men are ineligible to vote because of state felony laws. Harvard political scientist Bernard Fraga found that by excluding black men who are not currently in prison but still cannot vote from the overall count of eligible voters, turnout figures for the group increased from 61.4 to 68 percent. Fraga also saw changes in the figures for black women, and white men and women, but none as substantial as the 6.6 point shift he saw with black men. MORE
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OEDC, has released its latest data on poverty and inequality. It’s a little wonky (we found it via Wonkblog), but if you’re not the type to spend your day clicking through 315 different charts, you can start with one: the Gini coeeficient, a commonly used measure of income inequality. The blue line represents all OEDC countries, the red represents whatever country you’ve chosen below. As you’ll see, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of inequality, topped only by Chile, Mexico and Turkey in this select group of developed market economies. These numbers are echoed in the top 10 percent vs bottom 10 percent section. Oh, and if you want to better understand the Tax & Transfers section, refer to the Wonkblog post. MORE
It’s a distressing milestone that you likely read about: On Friday, the average daily level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere passed 400 parts per million — about 50 ppm over what scientists said was the “safe upper limit.” The gas, of course, is a byproduct of our fossil fuel economy, and is the key driver of climate change.
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased dramatically since 1958, when the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii — the gold standard for measuring the gas — first began tracking levels. That year, the daily average was 316 ppm — since then, the level has increased by 26.5 percent.
Many of the reforms contained in Dodd-Frank — passed nearly three years ago, now — have yet to be written as clear-cut regulations through the complicated federal rule-making process. One of these rules would require corporations to disclose the pay gap between workers and CEOs. Although executive compensation disclosure has been an SEC requirement since the early 1990s, median worker pay has not — and not surprisingly, corporate lobbyists have been working hard to make sure that reform doesn’t see the light of day.When (and if) a rule is written, shareholders will have hard data about the dramatic inequalities that exist within corporate America. In the meantime, Bloomberg News posted a chart of the top 250 S&P 500 companies with the highest estimated pay gaps for 2012. Since average worker pay is not usually available — thus the need for the new rule — Bloomberg used an “estimate of industry-specific rank-and-file employee compensation calculated from government data” to come up with the typical worker to chief executive pay ratios. MORE
Take a look at gun deaths, school shootings, public opinion and the Senate vote on gun control in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 people, including 20 children.
As Slate editors note in the introduction to their crowdsourced map that attempts to visualize gun deaths in the US (pictured below), determining the actual number of gun deaths each year is “surprisingly hard.” That’s because as many as 60 percent of gun deaths are suicides that usually go unreported by the press.MORE
Last week, we took a look at the growing inequality in Silicon Valley with five charts that show the hollowing out of the middle class and growing poverty rates in that region.
And today, we came across this smart chart on Facebook. It’s the coolest infographic we’ve seen in a long time. The New Yorker staff took the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau and mashed it up with NYC subway stops so you can see the median income of people living along a train’s route. It’s a fascinating look at the income disparities among NYC neighborhoods.Some highlights from The New Yorker:
$205,192—The highest median household income of any census tract the subway has a station in (for Chambers Street, Park Place, and World Trade Center, all in Lower Manhattan).
$12,288—The lowest median household income (Sutter Avenue, on the L in Brooklyn).
$142,265—The largest gap in median household income between two consecutive subway stations on the same line (between Fulton Street and Chambers Street on the A and the C lines, in Lower Manhattan).
Do you think the rich are paying their fair share in taxes? If so, you’re in the minority.
A Pew research poll found that about 60 percent of Americans — including about a third of Republicans — believe the rich are not paying their fair share. For contrast, 71 percent of those polled felt that lower-income Americans were either paying their fair share or paying too much, and 88 percent felt that middle-income Americans were paying their fair share or too much.
As this chart from Mother Jones shows, tax rates for the wealthy have fallen substantially since they peaked in 1940.
At the same time, the incomes of the richest Americans have risen substantially since the 1970s.
Take a look at more informative charts and graphics about who pays what, and why, at Mother Jones.
In recent years, the economy of California’s Silicon Valley has skyrocketed. But as high-tech companies like Google, Facebook and Apple mint millionaires by the dozen, the middle class is hollowing out and poverty rates are growing. Here are five charts on growing economic inequality in Silicon Valley, one community demonstrative of a nationwide trend. All data comes from the Joint Venture Silicon Valley Index and the Working Partnerships USA Life in the Valley Economy report. MORE
During a speech at Stanford University in 1967, one year before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “there are literally two Americas. One America is beautiful… overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity.
“But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebullience of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this America millions of work-starved men walk the streets daily in search for jobs that do not exist. In this America millions of people find themselves living in rat-infested, vermin-filled slums. In this America people are poor by the millions. They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”
Not much has changed since 1967. Take a look at these charts about American poverty from King’s day through today using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
When King delivered his “Two Americas” speech, a household in the top five percent income bracket was at least six times wealthier than a household in the bottom twenty percent. Since the late 1960s, the rich have been growing wealthier far more quickly than the poor. MORE
For many high school seniors, April is the month for tough decisions about colleges and universities — and how to cover their enormous tuitions. College tuition has been increasing far more quickly than household median income in recent years, and ProPublica reported last week that student fees — in addition to the tuition — are on the rise. These fees cover non-academic programs ranging from counseling services to late library hours to sidewalk maintenance. Some public universities use fees as a way to substantially raise tuition without actually increasing the figure on students’ bills labeled “tuition.” Mandatory “fees” at the University of Massachusetts — where tuition has remained flat by order of the state school board — are more expensive than the cost of tuition. MORE
Although public support of capital punishment has been falling since its peak in 1994 — when 80 percent of Americans said they favored it — approval numbers have plateaued in the 60th percentile over the past decade.
Gallup first started polling about the death penalty in 1936. At that time, 59 percent of Americans were in favor of it. Although support dropped in the 1960s — including the all-time low of 42 percent in 1966 — it rose steadily in the 1970s and ’80s. MORE
Starting today, the Supreme Court is hearing two monumental cases relating to same-sex marriage, both at a time when public opinion polls show a growing number of Americans support marriage equality.
A Pew Research Center poll released last week found that 49 percent of Americans support gay marriage and took a deeper look at the reasons why.
The Pew data is most applicable to the case before the Supreme Court determining whether California’s Proposition 8, banning gay marriage in the state, is constitutional. The other case deals with the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which officially defines marriage as between a man and a woman and denies federal benefits to same-sex partners of government employees. A Gallup poll released on Friday found that, if it were put to a vote, 54 percent of Americans would cast a ballot to allow same-sex partners of federal employees to receive benefits, while only 37 percent would vote to not allow it. MORE