Middle-class families continued to suffer in the aftermath of the Great Recession, and the poverty rate fell slightly, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Wednesday.
Median household income fell to $50,054 in 2011, down 1.5% from a year earlier. Income inequality widened, as the highest income echelon experienced a jump, while those in the middle saw incomes shrink.
Meanwhile, the national poverty rate eased to 15.0% in 2011, down slightly from 15.1% the year before. Some 46.2 million people fell below the poverty line last year, and one in five children were poor.
The poverty threshold for a family of four was $23,021.
Most experts were expecting an increase in poverty, but Census officials said a rise in the number of people working full time helped keep the rate in check.