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American Poverty: More Common Than You May Think32:15
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Theresa Martin, a volunteer at the Woodlawn Baptist Church food pantry, delivers soup to Rose Batista, left, and her niece Laura Batista during a service at the food pantry called Bread and Broth for Lent, in Pawtucket in 2009. (AP)
Theresa Martin, a volunteer at the Woodlawn Baptist Church food pantry, delivers soup to Rose Batista, left, and her niece Laura Batista during a service at the food pantry called Bread and Broth for Lent, in Pawtucket in 2009. (AP)

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?

WEIGH IN:

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?

Guests:

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This segment aired on September 13, 2012.

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