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

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: The Empire State Building towers over the Manhattan skyline on February 13, 2012 in New York City. The owner of the Empire State Building, Malkin Holdings, plans to raise up to $1 billion in an initial public offering on the 102 story Manhattan landmark. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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.

Poverty in City Grows; Gap Between Rich and Poor