A RISING TIDE DROWNS, ALSO. Now this is comforting:

Since 2000, Americans have been getting poorer, and national rates of severe poverty have climbed sharply, according to a study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The researchers reported that the growth in the poverty rate is due largely to a rise in severe poverty and that �moderate� poverty has grown little.


The percentage of Americans living in severe poverty�earning less than half of the poverty threshold�grew by 20% between 2000 and 2004, and the proportion in higher income tiers fell. The researchers reported that the number of Americans living in severe poverty increased by 3.6 million between 2000 and 2004.

And let's make this very clear: 2000-2004 was an expansionary period. The economy was getting better and growth was roaring forward. And yet, during that time, millions of Americans fell into ever-more severe impoverishment.

This has never happened before. A few years ago, economists marveled at the first time a three-year expansion had accompanied three straight years of increased poverty. A year later, they wondered how it had happened for a fourth time. We'd never seen three -- much less four! -- years of expansion coincide with straight increases in the poverty rate. In the past, rising economic tides had lifted all boats. Now, the poor are capsizing.

--Ezra Klein