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New York Tops Nation in Economic Inequality Despite Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Strategy

August 28, 2008

The income gap between the poor and the rich is greater in New York than in any other state in the nation, according to 2007 American Community Survey data released on August 26.

The data indicated that, though nationwide poverty levels have remained relatively stable over the past year, the inequality of wealth in New York City exceeds that of Mexico and Sri Lanka, with the poorest 20% of New Yorkers earning only 2.9% of the state’s income.

“When our income inequality is closer to the developing world than to the rest of the industrialized world, we should be ashamed of ourselves,” said NYCCAH Executive Director Joel Berg.

Though the number of New York City residents living in poverty dipped slightly in 2007, one in five New Yorkers continue to live in poverty. While some viewed the slight decrease as a sign of progress, it can also be attributed in part to the number of low-income residents who have recently left the City due to the rising cost of living.

The report further showed that the number of City residents living in poverty grew from 1.491 million in 2002 to 1.50 million in 2007, despite the implementation of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s vaunted anti-poverty initiative.

Continued Berg, “These federal numbers are the clearest indication yet that Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-poverty strategy – comprised mostly of small-scale, underfunded pilot programs – is failing to make a significant dent in the City’s massive poverty and hunger. At the same time, incomes for the richest New Yorkers have continued to skyrocket. I hope this new data is a wake-up call for all our elected officials to convince them that we must devote real resources to our anti-poverty efforts.”

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