Gap between rich and poor grows, report says


WASHINGTON -- Despite a growing economy, another 1.3 million people fell below the poverty line last year and the economic divide between rich and poor Americans continued to swell unexpectedly, according to the Census Bureau.

Altogether, 39.3 million Americans, or 15.1 percent of the population, lived in poverty in 1993, up from 14.8 percent in 1992 and the highest rate since 1983, when the economy was emerging from its deepest recession since World War II.

Maryland fared better than many states.

The percentage of residents living in poverty fell in 1993 to 9.7 percent, down from 11.8 percent a year earlier.

The figures released yesterday reveal the uneven impact of the economy's rebound as poor Americans have experienced severe setbacks and the middle class has continued to lose ground, while the nation's wealthiest 20 percent has grown substantially more affluent.

In its annual income and poverty estimates, the bureau also said that 39.7 million Americans, or 15.3 percent of the population, were without health insurance sometime during the year.

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