(Friday, September 25, 2020, 8:00 PM EST) Progress is like watching paint dry. The world changes right in front of us all but we easily miss the progress occurring right before our eyes!
The annual report on poverty in the United States from the U.S. Census Bureau was released last week and shows that the poverty rate dropped again in 2019, to a new all-time low.
Income and Poverty in the United States: 2019, issued September 2020, is based on data through 2019, before the Covid pandemic. The secular trend – the long-term perspective – shows progress is reason to be optimistic.
While critics say the decline in the poverty rate to 10.5% are already outdated because it does reflect the pandemic's effects, the path to less poverty in America has been a long-term struggle through the post-War era.
The distribution of income across American households over the last 40 years is a picture of progress.
The percentage of the total number of households that fall into each of the income brackets as of 1979, 1999, and 2019 show income inequality is less of a problem. Though this is not intended as a measure of the increased influence of billionaires, the income distribution curve has flattened and shifted to the right over the past four decades. There are fewer households earning $50,000 to $75,000 annually because many more are earning $100,000 to $150,000 and up!
In inflation adjusted dollars, the distribution of income by income bracket has broadened, reflecting an improvement in the character of wealth distribution in the U.S.
Median and mean household income both hit records, according to the new report. Over the 50 years illustrated here, mean income has grown faster than median income, a reflection of the improved character of household income distribution.
The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index closed Friday at 3,298.46, up +1.6% from Thursday, a drop of -0.63% from a week ago, and +38.33% higher than its March 23rd bear market low.
This marked the fourth straight week of declines in the S&P 500. The S&P 500 reached unprecedented highs in early September due to a surge in large-cap tech stocks, but those same tech stocks have seen declines in the past few weeks. So far, the S&P 500 has fallen 5.8% in September. Stock prices have swung wildly since the coronavirus crisis started in March and volatility is to be expected in the months ahead.
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