September 29, 2009 | Diane Johnson | Leave a comment Recession has hit American middle-income and poor families the hardest, which has led to a widening of the gap between the wealthiest and poorest Americans. Thousands of Americans have lost their job and income and have tried to cut their expenses where they can, in order to survive. Yet they are falling further and further into debt. The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans which are those making above $138,000 each year earned 11.4 times the amount the poorest individuals at the poverty line made. That was an increase from 11.2 times in 2007. While this may not seem like much of a difference, it is. The wider the gap is between the rich and poor the more unbalanced the country. Middle-class Americans play an important role in our country's system. They pay most of the taxes and stabilize the system. The main reason for the growing disparity in incomes is the recession. Many American's that were part of the middle-class are becoming poorer and the poorest of the poor are now even below the poverty line. They have lost their positions at factories and are now scrambling for any job they can find, yet many remain unemployed. The median income from last year alone fell from $52,163 to $50,303. This fall wiped out the net gains to the lowest level since 1997, which was over a decades worth of growth. Poverty also jumped to 13.2 percent which is at an 11-year high. Studies show that large cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, New York and San Francisco had the greatest income inequality in the country. These stats stress job losses, but another factor is in play. The disparity in large cities is partially due to the fact that the middle-class left the cities and moved into the suburbs. So there are industrial cities that are declining but still have wealthy neighborhoods like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo. Although the gap is widening between the wealthiest and the poorest Americans, things will get better. Even though many economists don't believe the employment levels will be back to normal until 2014. Eventually, the middle-class will start to grow again. It's essential that America maintains a strong middle-class because they not only stabilize the country but also pay most of the taxes.