A rising economic tide lifts everybody’s financial boat. Well, almost everybody’s. Thanks to the country’s unprecedented economic expansion, the great majority of Americans are better off financially than they were several years ago. Not only are the rich getting richer, but the middle classes too have seen a surge in income and wealth. The economic boom has even helped low-income families. According to data released in January by the Federal Reserve Bank, between 1995 and 1998 the wealth of families with annual incomes between $10,000 and $25,000 increased by 7 percent.
Left out of the picture, however, are the very poor—those families that earn under $10,000. Their wealth actually decreased by 14 percent between ’95 and ’98.