The chasm between those at the very top of America's economic ladder and those in the middle and at the bottom was immense before the damage inflicted by the pandemic on the U.S. economy. That divide has widened. According to a study released Monday by economists Bruce Meyer from the University of Chicago and James Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame, America’s poverty rate increased by 2.4 percentage points over the final six months of 2020. That’s the largest increase since the 1960s and is nearly double the largest annual increase in poverty over the last 50 years. An additional 8 million people nationwide are now considered poor, with Black Americans (5.4-percentage-point increase) representing a disproportionate share of those thrust into poverty.