The federal government has emerged as one of the most potent factors behind the rise in income inequality in the United States - especially in the nation’s capital. Income is increasingly being redistributed up, not just down, through tax cuts and to a growing upper class of contractors, lobbyists and lawyers.

The American welfare state is bigger than ever, but so are the ranks of the poor. As the U.S. focuses on those deemed most worthy, millions of adults get squeezed. That is clear in Indiana, which has seen a surge in poverty. READ MORE


Reuters used two methods to track changes in U.S. income distribution: The Gini index, a measure of distribution of income across the populace; and the ratio of income between the top 5 percent of households and the poorest 20 percent.


The United States has a wide range of antipoverty programs but keeps no comprehensive body of data on them. Thus there are no official figures on how many poor people receive no help.