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Wealth Gap Growing In America.

During President Donald Trump's inauguration speech in January, much of his message was focused on the economy, jobs and what he implied was a disappearing middle class. Indeed, Trump mentioned the word "wealth" five times.

"The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world," ( he said , and at the end of the speech, he promised, "We will make America wealthy again."

( Read: What Defines The Middle Class? Half Of Americans Live In The Center

The implication was that people were dropping out of the middle class and becoming increasingly poor. But what exactly is considered poor in America?

One barometer was the federal poverty level. A single person without any kids lived under the poverty line if he or she made less than $12,331 in 2015, according to the most recently available ( data from the U.S. Census Bureau . That line is adjusted based on how many people are in a family - for instance, if a household has nine people in it, if they bring in less than $45,822, they still live under the poverty level.

( Read: What Defines The Upper Class? No Consensus On Who's Considered Rich In America

The U.S. Census Bureau report published last fall also indicated that in 2015, about 13.5 percent of people - or 43.1 million Americans - lived under the poverty level. That's a drop of 1.2 percentage points since 2014.

That's good news, but it's not necessarily indicative of the larger trend: Income inequality has actually grown over the past 50 years. The ( Urban Institute found that in 1963, American families at the top of the income ladder had $6 for every $1 owned by families in the middle. In 2013, those rich families had 12 times the wealth of those families in the middle.

Plus, by some definitions, the lower class didn't just involve those who lived under the poverty level. The Pew Research Center ( calculated lower-income this way: Find the median household income in America (( in 2015, that was $56,516 ), and then figure out two-thirds of that income would be (that pans out to about $37,677 in 2015). Households that make below that level were considered part of the lower class. So, unlike the U.S. Census Bureau, Pew considered 29 percent of Americans to be in the lower class.

Of course, that number should be adjusted based on the cost of living in your city, your household size and how many children are dependent on the earnings. So just because you make $35,000 doesn't necessarily mean that you're part of the lower class, by Pew's definition. And if you're not sure, you easily check out which class you belong to with Pew's( online income calculator.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Mar 23, 2017
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