Updated 09/20/2012 07:47 PM
Census Data Shows Wider Gap Between Rich And Poor In NYC
Census data released Thursday shows that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer last year as the poverty rate reached its highest point in more than a decade. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
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1.7 million New Yorkers are living below the poverty line, which is defined as those earning less than $18,500 a year. That's an increase of 100,000 people from the year before.
"The population of poor people in New York City is greater than the entire population of the entire city of Philadelphia," said Joel Berg of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
Last year, the city's poverty rate was 20.9 percent. That's up from 2010's rate of 20.1 percent. In 2009, it was 18.7 percent. By comparison, the rate in 2000 was 21.2 percent, meaning that last year's number was the highest in 10 years.
"The poverty grew in the country as a whole and in the state and in most of the major cities," said Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs. "So here in New York City, we saw an uptick in the number of people in poverty. And obviously, it's concerning."
But poverty is not spread equally among boroughs. In Staten Island, 11.7 percent of people live below poverty. In Queens, the number is 15.8 percent. In Manhattan, it's 18.3 percent. It's 23.6 percent in Brooklyn. And the highest rate is the Bronx, where it's 30.4 percent.
Advocates for the city's poorest residents say what's particularly startling about these new numbers, besides the sheer number of people living in poverty, is the growing income disparity.
In simple terms, the U.S. Census statistics show that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer last year. Income disparity is now worse here than in some third-world countries.
"Right now, New York City is the epicenter of the world's inequality of wealth," Berg said. "We have higher inequality of wealth here than Burkina Faso, India and Brazil."
"What we know is that there has been a multi-decade trend in the growth of income inequality in this country that results from a lot of different factors," Gibbs said.
The Bloomberg administration says better education is the key to preparing people for the changing economy. Critics say that even low-skilled workers need a means of raising their incomes. The mayor rejected a living wage bill and state leaders have not delivered on a raise in the minimum wage.