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Economy

Numbers & Stories Tell Tales Of Middle Class Woes

The general headline is this: "U.S. Income Gap Widens As Poor Take Hit In Recession."

Both The Washington Post and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution dig beneath the latest Census Bureau figures, though, to look at how the recession has caused great financial pain for some previously comfortable families.

The Post says "awkward scenes are playing out" at charities around Washington, D.C., "as they struggle to help the still upward-spiraling number of formerly middle-class people knocking on their doors." Here's one of those awkward scenes the Post describes:

"What group are you with?" the donor asked the woman, who promptly burst into tears. With her Toyota Sequoia and quilted Vera Bradley bag, she had been mistaken for a volunteer — rather than a client waiting to take home a bag of potatoes.

"I'm a mother of four just trying to feed my kids," the woman sobbed to the donor, who was taken aback, then sympathetic.

The Journal-Constitution writes that:

The recession's victims increasingly look like you and your neighbors.

Nearly 26,000 metro Atlanta families — with two parents and at least one kid — dropped below the poverty line in 2008, up a chilling 19 percent from the year before.

And the number of families receiving food stamps and other bare-bones public assistance rose 21 percent in the 20-county metro area, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released today.