Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What you earn, what you get 

The morning newspaper up here blares "Almost 25% in poverty locally":

The percentage of people living below the poverty line in St. Cloud in the previous 12 months was 23.2 percent in 2007. St. Cloud�s percentage was the highest of all large Minnesota cities, including Minneapolis and St. Paul. The rate is up slightly from 22.7 percent in 2006, and is more than double the statewide poverty rate of 9.5 percent.

St. Cloud-area social service providers say the numbers correspond to what they�re seeing locally: increased demand at food shelves, emergency shelters and financial assistance programs.

�I think a lot of the volume is up just because it�s tougher for people to make their dollars stretch,� said Steve Bresnahan, executive director of Catholic Charities.

You need to go down ten paragraphs in the article to find out that Stearns County real median family income rose 5.9% in 2007.

The graphic is from data in the American Housing Survey. It shows the percentage of poor families that own these items. Compare these to 1970. What do you think matters more: what income you earn, or what goods and assets you have access to? Here's one view from the guys who point out that income is not the standard of living.