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One of the most intractable social challenges in America is poverty. We learned Wednesday from the U.S. Census Bureau that the poverty rate last year was unchanged from the year before. That was the sliver of good news. The bad news is that poverty has been growing steadily in recent years, and today 1 in 6 Americans — more than 46 million people — live below the poverty line. For a family of four, that means surviving on about $23,000 a year.
Meanwhile, income inequality grew sharply in 2011. The richest 20 percent of Americans saw their incomes grow, while everyone else's wages remained flat or declined. The most recent data available for Massachusetts — from 2009 — shows similar trends. Income inequality is on the rise, and about 1 in 10 Bay State residents live in poverty.
So why does poverty remain such a vexing problem in one of the world's richest countries? And in an election year, why aren't the candidates talking about it more, or at all?
Do you see a problem with income inequality in Greater Boston? Are you a top earner whose wages are growing? Are you stuck at minimum wage? What's preventing Boston's poorest residents from getting ahead?
- William Julius Wilson, professor of sociology and social policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of its Joblessness and Urban Poverty Research Program. He's also the author of "The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy."
- Barry Bluestone, economist and director of Northeastern's Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy; founding dean of Northeastern's School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.
This segment aired on September 13, 2012.
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