Washington -- The number of low-wage workers who qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit program rose 8 percent between 2000 and 2002, a jump of 1.5 million households, according to a study by the Brookings Institution.

The study also revealed that EITC recipients were more likely to live in suburban areas as opposed to large cuties. Roughly 6.7 million EITC recipients live in suburban areas, compared to 4.6 million living in big cities.

The Brookings study concluded that the EITC growth is a reflection of rising unemployment and stagnant wages during the two-year period, a quinella that increased the number of recipients.

Under the EITC program, which launched in 1976, eligible taxpayers receive refunds on a sliding scale. Single wage-earners without children are eligible if they earn adjusted gross income of less than $11,230, while married couples with two or more children are eligible if they earn AGI of less than $34,692. In 2001, more than 15 percent of all tax filers, or 19.1 million households, claimed the EITC credit.

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