Since 2000, Americans have been getting poorer, and national rates of severe poverty have climbed sharply. The study showing this was not done by a major newspaper or government think tank, but by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine!

They found that the percentage of Americans living in severe poverty?earning less than half of the poverty threshold?grew by 20% between 2000 and 2004, and the proportion of people in higher income tiers fell. The number of Americans living in severe poverty increased by 3.6 million between 2000 and 2004.

Why would physicians be interested in this? Dr. Steven Woolf says, “These trends have disturbing implications for society and public health. The rise in severe poverty is striking children the hardest.”

Woolf says, “This is not just a problem for the poor. Except for a small class of highly affluent Americans, income for the entire U.S. population has fallen since 2000.” The researchers describe a “sinkhole effect,” in which “families and individuals in the middle and upper classes appear to be migrating to lower income tiers that bring them closer to the poverty threshold” and call for the “reexamination of policies enacted in recent years to foster economic progress”?meaning fewer tax cuts for the rich?

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