Survey of Consumer Finances

  • Minorities and Americans without college degrees showed greatest gains in wealth since 2013, new data shows, By Heather Long and Tracy Jan, September 27, 2017, Washington Post: “Americans who were left behind as the country pulled out of the Great Recession — African Americans, Hispanics and people without college degrees — saw large gains in net worth over the past three years, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. But the improvements didn’t narrow the inequality gap: The share of U.S. income held by the top 1 percent of households reached 24 percent in 2016, a record high, and the median net worth of white households, at $171,000, was nearly 10 times larger than for black households…”
  • US middle class gets richer, but wealthy do even better, Associated Press, September 27, 2017, New York Times: “Most American families grew richer between 2013 and 2016, but the wealthiest households pulled even further ahead, worsening the nation’s massive disparities in wealth and income. The median net worth of all American families rose 16 percent last year from 2013 to $97,300, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday. The median is the point where half of families fall below and half above. That’s the first gain for middle class households since the recession upended the economy nearly a decade ago…”

Climate Change and Economic Inequality

Climate change in the U.S. could help the rich and hurt the poor, By Brady Dennis, June 29, 2017, Washington Post: “Researchers have long warned that unmitigated climate change could cause severe financial hardship to the United States in coming decades. But a new study published Thursday in the journal Science details how global warming could disproportionately affect poor areas of the country, contributing to widening economic inequality among Americans…”

Rich/Poor Health Disparities

U.S. one of world’s worst on health divide between rich, poor, By Sarah Toy, June 7, 2017, USA Today: “The U.S. has one of the world’s largest health disparities between the rich and poor — behind only Chile and Portugal — and its healthcare system and lack of social supports are to blame, experts say. Researchers examining surveys on health and income from people in 32 countries found poor Americans reported worse health than rich U.S. residents in significant numbers…”

Racial Wage Gap

  • Wage gap between blacks and whites is worst in nearly 40 years, By Tanzina Vega, September 20, 2016, CNN Money: “The wage gap between blacks and whites is the worst it’s been in nearly four decades, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute.  Last year, the hourly pay gap between blacks and whites widened to 26.7%, with whites making an average of $25.22 an hour compared to $18.49 for blacks, the EPI found. Almost 40 years ago, in 1979, the wage gap between blacks and whites was 18.1%, with whites earning an inflation-adjusted average of $19.62 an hour and blacks earning $16.07 an hour…”
  • Black and white wage gap growing significantly, analysis say, By Lonnie Shekhtman, September 20, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “The wage gap between black and white workers has grown by 32 percent in the last three decades, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The widening disparity is most deeply felt among college-educated workers, EPI says.  In comparing the average hourly wages of black and white workers, the Washington, D.C.-based, liberal think tank took into account where workers lived, their education levels, and professional experience. It found that in 2015, black men earned 22 percent less overall than white men, an increase from a 17 percent disparity in 1979…”

Distressed Communities Index

  • Poorest areas have missed out on boons of recovery, study finds, By Nelson D. Schwartz, February 24, 2016, New York Times: “The gap between the richest and poorest American communities has widened since the Great Recession ended, and distressed areas are faring worse just as the recovery is gaining traction across much of the country. These findings, outlined in a study to be released on Thursday by the Economic Innovation Group, a new nonprofit research and advocacy organization, may help explain why the country’s economic and political situation has become so polarized in recent years. The results, broken down into areas as small as individual ZIP codes, provide one of the most detailed looks at the nation’s growing inequality…”
  • A look at the wealth and income gap, by ZIP code, By Jim Zarroli, February 25, 2016, National Public Radio: “The most prosperous parts of the U.S. have recovered nicely from the 2008 financial crisis, but many other places remain mired in high unemployment and poverty, according to a report measuring wealth levels by ZIP code…”

Skills Gap and Inequality

Economist: Skills, tech gap can’t explain inequality, By Pedro Nicolaci Da Costa, October 20, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “Gaps in educational achievement and shifts in technology, often cited as key reasons for widening income and wealth inequality, do very little to explain the trend, said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank in Washington. Speaking Saturday at a conference on ‘Equality of Economic Opportunity’ hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Mr. Mishel criticized the event’s narrow focus on local actions to reduce inequality when other possible approaches lie in the realm of broader economic policy…”

Inequality and Social Mobility

Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong, By Matt O’Brien, October 18, 2014, Washington Post: “America is the land of opportunity, just for some more than others. That’s because, in large part, inequality starts in the crib. Rich parents can afford to spend more time and money on their kids, and that gap has only grown the past few decades. Indeed, economists Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane calculate that, between 1972 and 2006, high-income parents increased their spending on ‘enrichment activities’ for their children by 151 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, compared to 57 percent for low-income parents…”

College Access and Inequality

College cost isn’t poor students’ big problem, By Christopher Flavelle, July 28, 2014, Bloomberg View: “To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting more kids from poor families into college, the key to moving up in an increasingly unequal society. In research published last year, a team of American and Canadian economists compared the connection between family income and college or university attendance in the two countries. . .”

Inequality: Life Expectancy and Birthweights

This first chart on inequality will break your heart. The second will give you hope. By Zachary Goldfarb, July 21, 2014, Washington Post: “Look at this chart, and weep. It compares the life expectancy of women at the bottom of the income ladder to those at the top. Birth certificates do not record information about income, but researchers use race and educational status as proxies. In 1990, the life expectancy of a woman who never completes high school was 77.7 years. The life expectancy of a woman who completes college was 80 years. That makes for a difference of 2.3 years. By 2010, despite all the advances in medicine, the woman who never completes high school is expected to die sooner, at 77.3 years of age. But the woman who completes college is expected to live much longer, to 83.9 years of age. . .”

US Wealth Gap

Study: Recession and recovery widen US wealth gap, By Christopher Rugaber, June 24, 2014, Associated Press: “The Great Recession and the slow recovery have sharply widened the gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else, according to a study that underscores the unevenness of wealth gains since the recession ended. The richest 5 percent had 24 times the wealth of the median household in 2013 — up substantially from 16.5 times as much in 2007, according to a study by University of Michigan researchers. Substantial gains in the stock market have enabled richer Americans to regain much of their wealth. Stock prices had plunged by nearly half during the recession but have recovered all their losses and set new highs. And roughly 10 percent of households own 80 percent of stocks. . .”

Inequality and Opportunity

One key to success: A belief in a future, By Eduardo Porter, June 10, 2014, New York Times: “Tim Jackson’s job is to convince young people that they have a stake in the future. The boys in his care at Harper High School, in one of the meanest neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side, all have harsh stories. Clayton Harris, a bouncy 15-year-old freshman, tells me about his older brother, a high school dropout who smokes weed and does little else. Malik McGhee, still a sophomore at 17, knows what it’s like to have had a gun pointed at his head in fourth grade. Almost half the students who enroll at Harper drop out within five years, one of the highest rates in the city. The school is in a part of town where a dispute over a stolen bicycle or a Facebook fight between two girls over a boy might end up with a dead teenager. . .”

Income Inequality

The Politics of Income Inequalityby Eduardo Porter, May 13, 2014, New York Times: “The years from the late 19th and early 20th centuries were not the most egalitarian in American history. Robber barons roamed the economy, living off lavish rents generated by powerful cartels and industrial monopolies. The richest 1 percent of Americans reaped nearly one in five dollars generated by the economy and amassed almost half its wealth; at the other end of the scale, wage earners lost ground to inflation. It was the era of the Haymarket riots and Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.” Workers staged 1,500 strikes in 1886 alone. Ultimately, though, the disparities in wealth. . .”