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Minding the Gap

Earning gap in America increases

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Former Sen. John Edwards, who has emerged as a populist voice for liberalism, says he wants to eliminate poverty. With statistics like these, it looks like the one-term North Carolina Democrat and former vice presidential candidate has his work cut out for him:

• Sixty-four percent of Americans say it is hard to find a good job where they live versus only 28 percent who don't report the same difficulty. (Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, January 2006)

• Bush tax cuts boosted the income of the upper 1 percent of earners by 6 percent -- far more than the 3.5 percent increase enjoyed by the 80-99 percentile and the 0.3 percent boost seen by the lowest 20 percent of wage earners. (Economic Policy Institute, May 2006)

• In 2005, the typical worker's pay was just under $42,000 a year, while the average chief executive officer was paid almost $11 million. That ratio of earnings, 262:1, is the second-highest level ever recorded. (Economic Policy Institute, June 2006)

• In North Carolina, the income gap between the richest 20 percent of families and the poorest 20 percent of families is now the nation's 10th worst. (NC Justice Center, January 2006).

• More than 13 million households spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing. The recommended portion is 30 percent. (Habitat for Humanity)

• There were 37 million people in poverty (12.7 percent of the population) in 2004, up from 35.9 million (12.5 percent) in 2003. (US Census Bureau)

• The percentage of people covered by employment-based health insurance declined from 60.4 percent in 2003 to 59.8 percent in 2004. (US Census Bureau).

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