The latest Census Bureau data (collected in 2009 and early this year) show the gap between rich and poor in the U.S. is the widest on record. Last year, the top 20 percent of households—those earning more than $100,000 a year—received 49.4 percent of all household income. The bottom 20 percent—those earning less than $20,000—received 3.4 percent. The ratio of earnings between the top and bottom is about double what it was when the Census Bureau began tracking in 1967. Median household income fell 2.9 percent nationwide, from $51,726 to $50,221. It rose in only one state — North Dakota. Now 43.6 million Americans are living in poverty, the most in the 51 years the Census estimates have been published.
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