American is an economically unequal country. It is also plagued by a great deal of poverty, particularly by the standards of rich, developed nations. Today, poverty and inequality are meeting in more American places than ever before.
A new study by the Population Reference Bureau examines economic inequality and poverty in the context of American geography—in other words, it looks at where the unequal and poor places are, and where they overlap. What it finds is the convergence of poverty and inequality, a rising tide of economic bad news. Though the poverty rate has fluctuated over the past half century, inequality has been steadily going up—it's risen by about 20% since 1967.
And here's where we stand now: the overlap of high income inequality and high poverty affects a full 37% of US counties now, compared to just 29% in 1989. Here's a graphic representation of the problem: