Income Up, Poverty Down But Figures Are Relative

09/27/12 12:44PM By Jane Lindholm, Steve Zind
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A recent US Census report shows that the US continues to suffer in some key economic indicators.  More Americans are sliding into poverty and median income levels dropped in the one year assessment.

Vermont's numbers are brighter. It was the only state to see a rise in the median income and it was one of few states to record a decline in the number of people officially living in poverty.

But Jack Hoffman, with the Public Assets Institute, a progressive Montpelier think tank, says we shouldn't be too quick to congratulate ourselves. "One thing we need to keep in mind is where we were before the start of this recession. Poverty is down; it's not as low as it was before we went into this slump. Median household income is up; it's not as high as it was four years ago."

Also sobering, 20 percent of families with children under the age of five are now statistically living in poverty in the state. "It's good that we're paying attention," Hoffman asserts. "We just have to make sure that we keep our eye on the ball and look for policy changes that reduce this disparity in income inequality."

Hoffman would like to see the state take a look at tax policy and wage improvements to move in the right direction.

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