That's the conclusion of Mark R. Rank, a professor at Washington University who studies poor people in America. His research shows that 54 percent of Americans fall into poverty -- or close to it -- for at least a year. People are poor because they lose their jobs, their hours are cut, their family splits up or they have a major health problem.
For most of us, the question is not whether we will experience poverty, but when, writes Rank in the New York Times.
The typical pattern is for an individual to experience poverty for a year or two, get above the poverty line for an extended period of time, and then perhaps encounter another spell at some later point.With so many people falling in and out of poverty, you might conclude America is not a rich country. That's true for the majority of us.
Bruce Krastin looked at recent Social Security Administration data and found 47 percent of all workers earn poverty income, while the top one percent takes home 14 percent of all income in America. Krastin, writing in zero hedge, concludes
Something is clearly wrong when 47% of workers earn a poverty level income. Similarly, there is something wrong when 1% of workers earn 14% of all income...My conclusion is that America is not the ‘rich’ country that people think it is.Since there are currently three workers for every job opening, you sure can't blame poor people for being lazy or not having enough education. In fact, Rank found a vast majority of the poor have worked extensively and will do so again.
He also found:
- The U.S. poverty rate is twice the European average because we do not provide universal health care, affordable child care, or reasonably priced low-income housing;
- Two-thirds of those below the poverty line identified themselves as white;
- Only about 10 percent of those in poverty live in extremely poor urban neighborhoods.