The Complexities of American Income Inequality

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Posted on 12/30/2013

Income inequality is one of the most serious social problems facing the United States. Millions of families are living in poverty, and despite signs of moderate economic recovery following the recession, disparities between the poorest and wealthiest individuals in the country remains huge. Even households with incomes that exceed the federal poverty guideline (in 2013, $23,550 a year for a family of four) often find it difficult to make ends meet, and according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the problem is getting worse.

A Nation Divided

An infographic published in The Atlantic highlights the extent of income inequality in the United States. The majority of the nation's wealthiest counties by average household income are concentrated in the Northeast. There are more than 3,000 counties in the United States, and of the 75 richest, 44 are in the Northeast, including Maryland and Virginia. The Census Bureau states that to be considered a wealthy county, the median family income must exceed $75,000 per year. The infographic reveals that of the richest counties in the country, 37 are in the metropolitan belt that begins in Washington, D.C., and extends up the East Coast, encompassing Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

Just as the wealthiest counties in the country are clustered together, so too are the poorest, with 79 percent of the nation's poorest counties located in the South. In these counties, the average family income is less than $35,000 per year. Some of these counties are in the states in which ChildFund operates, including Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas. In addition to lower household income, these areas also face a considerable challenge in educating children from lower-income families. Many school districts in the nation's poorest states lack the financial resources necessary to provide children with a high-quality education, perpetuating the cycle of generational poverty.

Contentious Issues

ChildFund works in some of the poorest communities in the United States to bring hope to children in need and their families. One of the best ways you can support our work is by sponsoring a child. For just $35 per month, you can help us provide educational support, community gardening resources, cultural restoration and mentoring to U.S. children living in poverty.

Your generosity and support will make a lifetime's worth of difference in the life of a boy or girl living in poverty, so please consider becoming a child sponsor today and bring hope to a child's life.