The Social Crisis in America

US Census figures show jump in child poverty

By Fred Mazelis, 22 November 2011

Figures released by the US Census Bureau indicate an official child poverty rate of 21.6 percent, the highest since the specific surveys of child poverty began in 2001.

US more segregated in rich and poor neighborhoods

By Barry Grey, 17 November 2011

A new study released Wednesday on the relationship between family income and housing patterns in the US underscores the degree to which social inequality pervades every aspect of life in America.

A tale of two cities 2011

Social reality in New York

By Fred Mazelis, 15 November 2011

New York remains the most vivid exhibit of the misery created by twenty-first century capitalism alongside levels of parasitism that recall pre-revolutionary France or Russia.

A portrait of America in decline

By Patrick Martin, 31 October 2011

A series of reports over the past ten days—on poverty, wages, income inequality and social mobility—have painted a portrait of America starkly at odds with the official mythology of the United States as the land of unlimited economic opportunity.

Government report says richest 1 percent doubled their share of US national income

By Barry Grey, 27 October 2011

A study released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports that the richest 1 percent of US households nearly tripled their income between 1979 and 2007 and doubled their share of the national income.

Five thousand register for the free health care clinic in Los Angeles

By our correspondents, 21 October 2011

The huge turnout for the free clinic, sponsored by CareNow, is another demonstration of the desperate and growing health care crisis in the United States.

Workers’ incomes plummet during the Obama “recovery”

By Barry Grey, 11 October 2011

As the anti-Wall Street protests against social inequality and the tyranny of the financial oligarchy spread across the US, a new study released Monday documents the devastating decline in working class living standards over the past four years.

The political issues in the fight against Wall Street

By Bill Van Auken, 5 October 2011

The Occupy Wall Street protest, now in its third week, has struck a powerful chord throughout the US, with similar occupations developing in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities and towns across the country.

US becomes a center of poverty-wage manufacturing

By Andre Damon, 29 September 2011

With the full backing of the Obama administration, US and foreign-based corporations are transforming the US into a cheap labor platform in direct competition with Mexico, China and other low-wage countries.

Wealth and poverty in America

By Joseph Kishore, 23 September 2011

The wealth of the richest 400 Americans increased 12 percent over the past year, while new census figures document a shocking increase in the level of poverty in cities and communities throughout the country.

Poverty soars among young families in US

By Naomi Spencer, 22 September 2011

More than one in three young families with children were living in poverty in the US last year, the highest rate ever recorded.

Top US corporations paid CEOs more than they paid in taxes

By James Brewer, 1 September 2011

Telecommunications giant Verizon, which is demanding huge concessions from its workers, is one of the corporate giants that paid less in US taxes in 2010 than they paid to their chief executive officers.

Report paints devastating portrait of conditions of US children

By Nikolai Barrickman and Kate Randall, 2 August 2011

The Children’s Defense Fund details the tremendous decline in social conditions for America’s children since the onset of the recession.

An interview with George Coling of the National Fuel Funds Network

By Lawrence Porter, 20 July 2011

The WSWS spoke with George Coling at the recent National Energy and Utility Affordability Conference in Florida.

Notes on the US social crisis

By Naomi Spencer, 20 July 2011

The economic crisis manifests itself in virtually every facet of working class living conditions in the US.

Utility Affordability Conference in Florida: Increased need, decreased support

By Lawrence Porter and Toby Reese, 20 July 2011

The National Energy and Utility Affordability Conference (NEUAC) was held June 27-29 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, amidst the growing utility crisis in the United States.

An interview with Florida attorney Viletta Coombs

By Lawrence Porter and Toby Reese, 20 July 2011

An interview with Viletta Coombs at the National Energy and Utility Affordability Converence.

Need overwhelms Southern California food pantries

By Ramon Valle, 18 July 2011

Los Angeles and Orange Counties, known as centers of Southern California wealth and glamour, are now home to half a million people seeking help from food pantries.

The dramatic effect of poverty on death rates in the US

By Debra Watson, 13 July 2011

A research team from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health has estimated that 875,000 deaths in the US in 2000 could be attributed to a cluster of social factors bound up with poverty and income inequality.

Youth face jobless summer in New York City

By Dwight Stoll and Sandy English, 11 July 2011

For people between the ages of 16 and 24, the official unemployment figure officially stands at 25 percent.

Young and Jobless in Chicago

Part 3: Budget cuts

By Andre Damon, 6 July 2011

In this video, the third in a series on youth unemployment in Chicago, youth services workers speak about the disastrous effects of budget cuts on summer employment programs and activities.

CEO pay in US soared 23 percent in 2010

By Barry Grey, 4 July 2011

While US unemployment remains at near-Depression levels and health care, pensions and education are being slashed by all levels of the government, the pay of corporate CEOs is soaring.

The land of unlimited inequality

By Patrick Martin, 23 June 2011

The gap in the United States between the wealthy and everyone else has widened to unprecedented dimensions.

Life expectancy declining in many parts of US

By Patrick Martin, 16 June 2011

The United States is falling further and further behind other industrialized countries. \

Obama in Joplin: More empty promises to disaster survivors

By Patrick Martin, 30 May 2011

While the president promised not to forget the tornado victims, the scale of federal aid is entirely inadequate.

Cuts in US welfare programs hit hundreds of thousands of poor families

By James Brewer, 30 May 2011

A recent report documents the erosion of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and warns of drastic cuts that many states are implementing that will put even more Americans at risk.

A letter on the Joplin tornado and Wal-Mart

28 May 2011

The WSWS publishes here a reader’s letter in response to “The Joplin, Missouri tornado” on the dominance of Wal-Mart over the region.

The two Americas

By Tom Eley, 6 April 2011

Recent reports underscore how the US financial elite has used the economic crisis to further enrich itself at the expense of the vast majority of the people.

Poverty, homelessness climb among US schoolchildren

By Debra Watson, 30 March 2011

The government estimates that 25 percent of American children will soon be in poverty and 1.5 million children are homeless.

Massachusetts: Hundreds of thousands affected by proposed LIHEAP cuts

By John Marion, 16 March 2011

Thousands of Massachusetts families face having Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) benefits cut in half next year under the White House’s proposed budget.

US corporate profits return to record levels

By Andre Damon, 1 March 2011

While millions of people confront the daily miseries of unemployment, home foreclosure and poverty as a result of the economic crisis, corporate profits have continued to swell.

Video: In fifth day of Wisconsin protests, largest showing yet

By Andre Damon, 21 February 2011

Between 50,000 and 100,000 people packed the capitol square in Madison, Wisconsin on February 19, demonstrating the popular hostility to austerity measures proposed by governor Scott Walker.

The Wisconsin protests and the re-emergence of the American working class

By Bill Van Auken, 18 February 2011

Protests by tens of thousands of state workers, teachers and their supporters against sweeping social cuts in Wisconsin mark a turning point in the United States.

Video: Madison, Wisconsin demonstrations gain strength

By Andre Damon, 18 February 2011

Demonstrations continued Thursday in Madison, Wisconsin, as thousands of people packed the state legislature, while tens of thousands protested outside.

Video: Workers, students speak on budget cuts in Madison

By Andre Damon, 17 February 2011

Tens of thousands of workers and students protested on February 17 in Madison, Wisconsin against Governor Scott Walker's plan to end collective bargaining for state employees.

Unite workers and youth to defeat Wisconsin budget cuts

By the Socialist Equality Party and the International Students for Social Equality, 16 February 2011

Supporters of the Socialist Equality Party and the International Students for Socialist Equality are distributing this statement to oppose Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s social cuts and attacks on workers’ right to strike.

Obama’s budget and the rot of American capitalism

By Patrick Martin, 15 February 2011

Two years after the multi-trillion dollar bailout of the banks, the Obama administration is proposing more than $1 trillion in cuts, largely to programs that benefit the working class.

Detroit cuts funding for homeless warming centers

By Naomi Spencer, 29 January 2011

Budget cuts carried out on the quiet have prevented emergency warming centers in Detroit from opening their doors all winter, leaving thousands of homeless and poor residents in the bitter cold.

Auto show: Car executives, UAW officials celebrate “return of Detroit”

By Jerry White, 18 January 2011

The auto show in Detroit is being used to celebrate the auto industry’s return to profitability, a year after the White House oversaw the gutting of auto workers’ jobs, wages and benefits.

Wall Street celebrates record profits

By Tom Eley, 18 January 2011

JPMorgan Chase’s profit report for 2010 has become the occasion for a celebration by the American plutocracy of the return of the good old days before the Wall Street crash of 2008.

1.5 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2010

By Jerry White, 6 January 2011

The number of people in the US filing for bankruptcy rose by 9 percent last year to 1.53 million, as more working families fell victim to job losses, plunging home values and unforgiving creditors.

A modest pay

By David Walsh, 6 January 2011

President Barack Obama, noting the imminent departure of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in an interview with the New York Times January 5, let slip a revealing remark.

The New Orleans fire and the conditions of youth in America

By Kate Randall, 30 December 2010

The tragic deaths of eight young people in a fire in an abandoned New Orleans warehouse point to the increasingly dire plight of young people in America today.

Christmas in America

By Jerry White, 24 December 2010

Three years since the onset of the recession in December 2007, the majority of the US population is facing staggering levels of unemployment, home foreclosures, hunger and poverty.

One third of working families in US struggling to meet basic needs

By Jerry White, 22 December 2010

The ranks of the working poor swelled by 1.7 million from 2007 to 2009, according to a new analysis of US Census data.

New York City, in “test,” denies housing aid to the poor

By Fred Mazelis, 15 December 2010

The New York City administration is to experiment on the city’s poor by conducting a randomized trial on the effect of denying emergency housing assistance to those in danger of homelessness.

Detroit residents speak on utility shutoffs

15 December 2010

Thousands of people who either lost their utility service or are in danger of doing so attended a "Customer Assistance Day" sponsored by DTE Energy in downtown Detroit. Several spoke to the WSWS.

Obama tax proposal benefits wealthiest Americans while raising taxes on the poor

By Andre Damon, 9 December 2010

The tax “compromise” announced by the Obama administration this week will actually raise taxes on the poorest Americans, while providing a huge boondoggle for top income earners.

US Congress slams door on the unemployed

By Tom Eley, 2 December 2010

The failure to extend unemployment benefits for millions of workers is a crime and a social catastrophe.

US: The millionaires’ Congress

By Tom Eley, 26 November 2010

Members of US Congress increased their combined personal wealth by more than 16 percent from 2008 and 2009. Nearly half are now millionaires.

Hunger in America

By Patrick Martin, 17 November 2010

While 50 million Americans are suffering hunger or are at risk of it, the US political system is focused entirely on the plight of millionaires facing a tax increase December 31.

Chairmen of Obama deficit panel propose cuts in Social Security, Medicare

By Tom Eley, 11 November 2010

The chairmen of the bipartisan deficit-cutting commission appointed by President Obama on Wednesday released a plan that would include massive cuts to social spending and tax cuts for the rich.

Washington cuts funding for emergency utilities assistance

By Andrea Peters, 10 November 2010

The federal government has dramatically reduced funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Thousands of homeowners seek help in Sacramento, California

By Oliver Richards and Karl Eisner, 11 October 2010

Thousands of homeowners struggling with foreclosures and financial distress attended a “mortgage modification” event sponsored by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) in Sacramento, California on the weekend. The gathering followed a similar “Save the Dream” event in Los Angeles that NACA officials estimated was attended by 40,000 people.

US Census Bureau figures

2009 income gap in the US highest on record

By David Walsh, 29 September 2010

Figures released Tuesday by the US Census Bureau reveal sharply worsening conditions for tens of millions of Americans under the impact of the economic crisis and the accumulation of vast wealth by a relative handful.

Facebook founder’s gift to Newark schools: The return of the aristocratic principle

By David Walsh, 28 September 2010

The donation of $100 million by Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg to the Newark school system is a small episode that reveals something fundamental about American society.

West Virginia jobless fund faces insolvency

By Naomi Spencer, 20 September 2010

With unemployment and other indices of social distress on the rise, West Virginia’s unemployment benefit fund is on the brink of insolvency.

The failure of American capitalism

Forty-four million living in poverty in the US

By Patrick Martin, 17 September 2010

The number of people living in poverty in America rose to 43.6 million in 2009, the US Census Bureau reported Thursday.

Poverty in America: 2010

By Tom Eley and Barry Grey, 14 September 2010

The Obama administration has reacted to news that the US poverty rate has returned to the levels of the 1960s by ruling out any anti-poverty measures.

One in seven Americans now living in poverty

By Patrick Martin, 13 September 2010

Census figures for 2009, to be released Thursday, will show that the poverty rate soared last year to nearly 15 percent. One out of every seven Americans is now living below the official poverty level, the highest proportion since the 1960s.

One million US public school students homeless

By Clement Daly, 2 September 2010

A report released in July reveals that homelessness among public school students in the US increased by 40 percent from the 2006-2007 school year to 956,914 in 2008-2009.

Five years since Hurricane Katrina

By Naomi Spencer, 1 September 2010

The following is a republication of a series on the fifth anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, originally published in three parts on August 28-31, 2010.

Record number of Illinois families on food stamps

By Matthew Brennan, 9 August 2010

Illinois food stamp use has increased by 12 percent over the past year, to more than 1.6 million residents. At the same time, social assistance programs are being subjected to deep funding cuts.

Economic transformation of Welch, West Virginia: from mines to prisons

By Naomi Spencer, 3 August 2010

McDowell County, West Virginia’s southernmost county, has seen a dramatic decline in population as a consequence of the collapse of the mining workforce.

At Clinton wedding: The American aristocracy flaunts its wealth

By Patrick Martin, 2 August 2010

The wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky, a multimillion-dollar affair held on an estate on the Hudson River, was a demonstration of the deep and unbridgeable social gulf in America.

“If you got hurt and took an ambulance, you would die”

Matewan, West Virginia, residents speak on dearth of services

By a WSWS reporting team, 30 July 2010

The small town of Matewan, situated in the steep mountains of Mingo County, West Virginia, earned a place in history for the struggles of the coal miners who called it home in the first part of the twentieth century.

The social crisis in Appalachia

Part 3: Environmental disaster and private profit

By Naomi Spencer and Rosa Lexington, 27 July 2010

Reckless surface mining operations in close proximity to communities has exposed residents of the coalfields to water contamination, flash flooding, and other dangers.

Report rubber-stamps bonuses

On Wall Street, crime pays very well

By Patrick Martin, 26 July 2010

The Obama administration’s “special master” has rubber-stamped the awarding of billions in bonuses to top executives of major banks during the period when they were being bailed out by the US Treasury.

The social crisis in Appalachia

Part 2: An epidemic of ill health among the poor

By Naomi Spencer, 24 July 2010

This is the second in a series of articles on the history, economy, social and environmental conditions of the Appalachian coalfields.

The social crisis in Appalachia

Part 1: Deprivation and inequality in the coalfields

By Naomi Spencer, 22 July 2010

This article is the first of a series on the history, economy, social and environmental conditions in the Appalachian coalfields of the United States.

Michigan farm workers die from inhaling fumes in silo

By Josué Olmos, 17 July 2010

Seventeen-year-old Francisco Martínez and 18-year-old Victor Pérez died July 12 while working inside of a silo at a dairy farm in Thornapple Township, Michigan.

Imprisoned for debt in America

By Nancy Hanover, 16 July 2010

People are being thrown in jail for failing to pay debts in the United States, despite the fact that federal imprisonment for debt was abolished in 1933.

Inequality, lead poisoning, and children

New study documents the impact of lead on Detroit school children

By Debra Watson, 29 June 2010

A new study has correlated high lead exposure among Detroit children in their early years to later school-age learning deficits.

Minnesota nurses vote to authorize open-ended strike

By Ron Jorgenson, 25 June 2010

Nurses in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota voted by a 84 percent margin June 21 to authorize an indefinite strike against six Twin Cities health care systems.

Trial begins against ex-Chicago police commander accused of torture

By Naomi Spencer, 2 June 2010

The federal trial began last week for former Chicago police commander John Burge, who has long stood accused of torturing hundreds of poor, black prisoners beginning in the early 1970s. The case is a window to the meat-grinder of the city’s criminal justice system.

Report finds deepening poverty in Illinois

By Kristina Betinis and Naomi Spencer, 21 May 2010

A new report released May 5 identifies growing levels of poverty in Illinois that point to the existence of an unfolding social catastrophe.

US home repossessions set record in April, foreclosures plateau at “very high level”

By David Walsh, 14 May 2010

Banks in the US repossessed 92,400 homes in April, a record number. At the present rate, with more than 350,000 houses taken over by lenders in the first four months of 2010, more than 1 million American homes will be repossessed this year.

New York City: Luxury housing market recovers as homelessness rises

By Dan Brennan and Ali Ismail, 27 April 2010

The impact of the economic crisis on housing in New York City has once again laid bare the nature of class relations that exist in America’s largest city and the capital of global finance.

Studies reveal Americans’ declining living standards and increasing anger

By Hiram Lee, 23 April 2010

New studies released by the Pew Research Center in March and April shed new light on the economic crisis, as well as the degree to which the American people feel anger and distrust toward the US government.

The house fires in Detroit and the West Virginia mine disaster

By Jerry White, 21 April 2010

The recent series of fatal house fires in Detroit, Michigan and the April 5 mine explosion in West Virginia, which killed 29 coal miners, reveal the brutality of American capitalism.

US jobless benefit filings, foreclosures up sharply

By Patrick Martin, 16 April 2010

Both new jobless claims and home foreclosures are rising sharply, dispelling claims that the US economy has begun to recover from the world financial crisis triggered by the September 2008 Wall Street crash.

Report cites staggering level of US maternal mortality

By Natascha Grimmelshausen and Kate Randall, 14 April 2010

Women in the US have a greater chance of dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth than in 40 other countries, Amnesty International reports.

Deadliest US mine disaster in nearly 40 years

Families begin to bury 29 killed in West Virginia explosion

By Andre Damon and Samuel Davidson, 12 April 2010

Workers and residents in West Virginia spoke out against the mine owner, Massey Energy, including for its refusal to allow coworkers to attend the funeral of those killed.

Decline in 2009 personal income reveals impoverishment of US population

By David Walsh, 27 March 2010

Figures released by the US Commerce Department Thursday highlight the continuing decline in living standards for wide layers of the population, suffering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

In wake of Paterson “scandals”

Unelected multi-millionaire takes charge in New York budget crisis

By Bill Van Auken, 18 March 2010

A month-long media scandal-mongering campaign against New York’s Governor David Paterson has subsided after his unelected lieutenant governor, Richard Ravitch, a multi-millionaire establishment “fixer,” took charge in the state’s budget crisis.

Pittsburgh: WSWS speaks to family of steelworker left to die

“If you don’t have money, they don’t care about you”

By Phyllis Scherrer, 16 March 2010

The WSWS spoke to the widow and son of Curtis Mitchell, the 50-year-old unemployed steelworker who passed away 30 hours after he first requested an ambulance during the worst winter storm to hit Pittsburgh in over 125 years.

Former legislator Juanita Goggins freezes to death in South Carolina home

By Hiram Lee, 16 March 2010

Juanita Goggins, the first black woman elected to South Carolina's state government in 1974, froze to death in her home in late February. Goggins suffered from dementia, and her utilities had been shut off after she had not paid her bills.

World’s billionaires grew 50 percent richer in 2009

By Andre Damon, 12 March 2010

The world’s billionaires saw their wealth grow by 50 percent last year, and their ranks swell to 1,011, from 793, according to the latest Forbes list of billionaires.

US banks and corporations announce huge pay packages for 2009

Wells Fargo executives double their compensation

By Andre Damon, 11 March 2010

US corporations are beginning to release figures on CEO pay for last year. Multi-million dollar packages are the norm in a year that saw the continued deterioration in the living conditions of the vast majority of the population.

THAW, United Way: No help for utility shutoffs

By Nancy Hanover, 8 March 2010

In the aftermath of the deaths of 14 Detroiters as a result of utility shutoffs over the last two months, the media, the utility company and state and local officials have attempted to shift the blame onto the victims, claiming they failed to seek the help that is readily available.

Deadly house fires in Detroit: Who is responsible?

By Tom Eley, 5 March 2010

Fires in Detroit-area homes with suspended utilities have claimed the lives of a number of people in recent months. Fault does not rest with the victims.

Class and justice in America: The Supreme Court and Enron felon Jeffrey Skilling

By Barry Grey, 5 March 2010

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Skilling’s appeal of his 2006 conviction for fraud and conspiracy in connection with the December 2001 collapse of the energy giant Enron.

US states slash Medicaid

By Tom Eley, 20 February 2010

US states are imposing major cuts to Medicaid, the health insurance program for low income Americans, even as its rolls swell at a record pace.


US super-rich get five times more income than in 1995

By Andre Damon, 20 February 2010

The incomes of the very rich in the US grew phenomenally between 1992 and 2007, while their tax rates plummeted, according to recently uncovered IRS statistics.

Majority of US children suffer chronic health conditions, study says

By Tom Eley, 18 February 2010

More than half of all US children will suffer from chronic health conditions during their childhood, a marked increase over the past two decades, a new study shows.

Flint, Michigan fire kills four children

By Lawrence Porter, 15 February 2010

Four children were killed in a tragic fire in an apartment on Saturday night. The closest fire department was recently closed due to budget cuts.

America, the land of inequality

By Tom Eley, 13 February 2010

New studies reveal that the social divide has grown starker in the current economic crisis, and that the US is the most unequal of the advanced economies, with great wealth and extreme poverty having become practically hereditary conditions.

East Coast blizzard lays bare social crisis of US cities

By Kate Randall and Andre Damon, 11 February 2010

For the second time in less than a week, heavy snow pummeled much of the US East Coast Wednesday, as snow removal teams struggled to keep up with widespread power outages.

One in eight Americans needs emergency food assistance

By Hiram Lee, 4 February 2010

A new report on hunger in the United States paints a devastating portrait of social misery confronted by the working class. One in eight Americans now requires assistance from emergency hunger relief organizations.

Utility shutoffs responsible for another death in Detroit

By Lawrence Porter, 4 February 2010

A house fire after a utility shutoff claimed another victim, the latest in a series of tragic and entirely preventable deaths in the poorest large city in the US.