Nearly Half of New York City Lives in or Near Poverty


Who said the recession was over?

Coming off the news that New York City’s homelessness population is at Great Depression levels, the Bloomberg administration released a report this weekend that hammers that whole neo-Gilded-Age income disparity issue home. In 2011, the population of the city living in or near poverty levels rose three points from 2009, reaching an astounding 46 percent. That means that nearly 3 million inhabitants come within 150 percent of the poverty threshold. This was two years ago.

And that imbalance is so clear that you can see it in the subways with a recent infographic provided to us by the New Yorker. Almost half of the greatest city in the world lives in or near poverty levels.

While the federal number amounts to $22,841, the city defines poverty as making below $30,949 in a two-adult, two-child family. That makes sense once you take into account the insanely expensive standards of living in our five boroughs. With that being said, the 150 percent above that is $46,416, given the same socioeconomic scenario. So 46 percent of the city is making below that number. Your jaw should be dropping right about now.

What’s more unsettling is that the report was conducted by City Hall. This is an administration that has responded to the recession with threats of layoffs and intense cuts in budget talks (the mayor has demanded $2 billion during the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years). By some estimates, food stamps alone shave off 3.6 percent from the poverty rate. It’s also an administration that has gutted Advantage–a NYCHA program that subsidized housing for those trying to get out of poverty. And it’s run by a man worth $24 billion.

But what’s most frightening is the relativity of it all. As the Times reports, “the official rate is lower in New York than in many other major cities.”

Welcome to America in the post-Great-Recession era, where most of the population in metropolitan areas are redefining what it means to “live within your means.”