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Poor losers


Adapted from Mother Jones magazine's July/August issue, this compendium of statistics shines a light on the need for charitable giving and social action in the United States.

One in four U.S. jobs pays less than a poverty-level income.

During the 1980s, 13 percent of Americans ages 40 to 50 spent at least one year below the poverty line; by the 1990s, 36 percent did.

Today, 13 percent of all Americans 37 million are officially poor.

President Bush's tax cuts (extended until 2010) save those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 an average of $10 a year, while those earning $1 million are saved $42,700.

Among the working poor, 13 percent of income is spent on commuting if public transportation is used, 21 percent if a private vehicle is used.

Workers who earn $45,000 or more spend 2 percent of their income on commuting.

One in three people who've left welfare since 1996 did so because they couldn't meet program requirements or they hit the five-year limit.

One in seven have no work, no spousal support, and no other government benefits.

Forty-six million Americans are uninsured a 15 percent increase since 2000.

Eighty-three percent of those earning $75,000 or more work for companies that offer insurance, versus 24 percent of those who earn less than $25,000.

Two-thirds of the reported "shrinking" gap between white and black men's wages is attributable to black men dropping out of the labor market altogether.

The true jobless rate of black men in their 20s without a high school diploma is 72 percent.

Fifty-one percent of the uninsured are $2,000 or more in medical debt. Sixteen percent owe at least $10,000.

In 1997, three out of four doctors provided some free or reduced-cost care. Now, two out of three do.

Two in five elderly live on less than $18,000 a year, including Social Security benefits.

Since 1983, college tuition has risen 115 percent. The maximum Pell Grant for low- and moderate-income college students has risen only 19 percent.

Among poor college-qualified students, 52 percent go to a four-year college within two years of graduating. Among richer qualified students, 83 percent do.

The Consumer Price Index for urban dwellers is up 25 percent since the federal minimum wage was last raised.

Sixty-three percent of federal housing subsidies go to households earning more than $77,000. Eighteen percent go to households earning less than $16,500.

Since 1976, the federal budget has doubled, while Housing and Urban Development's budget has declined by 65 percent.

Since 1986, the number of pawnshops in the U.S. has increased by 142 percent.

Thirteen percent of U.S. households don't have a checking account. Ten percent don't have any form of bank account.

Credit card late fees are 194 percent higher than in 1994.

The average credit card balance for households earning less than $35,000 is $4,000.

At 11.5 percent annual percentage rate, making the standard minimum payment of 2 percent per month, it takes 13 years to pay off a $4,000 balance.

Forty-one percent of those making less than $30,000 think there is "a lot" of tension between the rich and the poor. Only 18 percent of those making $100,000 to $150,000 think this.


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