NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The middle class is vanishing fast.
Between 2007 and 2009, the number of working families who fell into the “low income” bracket increased from 28% to just over 30%, according to a new report from the Working Poor Families Project, an advocacy group.
In total, 45 million working Americans were considered “low income” in 2009, meaning they earned less than 200% of the national poverty level, or about $43,000 for a family of four. Perhaps even more upsetting is the fact that 22 million of these low-income Americans were children.
The report, which is based on an analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, highlights the severe impact of the economic downturn, and the struggles that many working families continue to have in post-recession America.
“While the recession is officially over, millions of families are still looking for work and struggling to pay bills,” the authors of the report wrote. “The plight of these families now challenges a fundamental assumption that in America, work pays.”
If this data isn’t ominous enough, a separate report from the Census Bureau found that 14.3% of Americans lived below the poverty level in 2009, the highest proportion since 1994. Moreover, more than 42 million Americans, the most on record, relied on food stamps as of August of this year.
However, it’s clear that the recession has not hurt everyone. Income inequality in the U.S. only continued to grow in 2009, as the richest 20% earned ten times the amount of the 45 million low-income Americans, nearly half of the total income in America last year, according to the Working Poor Families Project.