As Poverty in City Grows, So Does Gap Between Rich and Poor

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Photo: John Moore/2012 Getty Images

U.S. census figures released Thursday show that poverty has risen in New York City for the third straight year, up to 20.9 percent in 2011 from an estimated 18.4 percent in 2008, according to WNYC. The situation may actually be more dire because the federal government's definition of poverty ($11,500 annually individually and $23,021 for a family of four) doesn't account for the high cost of living in New York. Not everyone is suffering, though: The numbers reveal that while the median income for the lowest fifth was $8,844 (down $463 from 2010), it rose $1,919 to $223,285 for the highest fifth, according to the Times. The gap is even greater in Manhattan, where the wealthiest fifth, earning $391,022 annually (individuals), made 40 times more than the lowest fifth's reported $9,681 annual income (compared with 38 times more the year before). It will be challenging even for Mayor Bloomberg to put a positive spin on these figures.