American Income Inequality

The American economy is robust. As President Trump will be the first to tell you, we have great wealth and low unemployment. And yet, if that’s true, why are so many Americans struggling to get by?

To answer that question, I did a survey of financial reporting by a number of sources. Here’s what I learned:

One quarter of American workers make less than $10 an hour. That means that they live below the federal poverty level.

The rich benefited from the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis while the poor and the middle class did not. In 2012, the top 10% of earners took home 50% of all income. The top 1% took home 20% of the income.

By 2015, America’s top 10% averaged more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90%. Americans in the top 1% averaged over 40 times more income than the bottom 90%.

And wealth—the value of a household’s property and financial assets, minus the value of its debts—is even more highly concentrated than income. The share of wealth held by the top 1 percent rose from 30 percent in 1989 to 39 percent in 2016, while the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent.

To change this situation, we need to alter the way we do business in this country. We can start by passing a minimum wage law requiring that all workers get paid at least $15 an hour. We can change the tax bias so that the wealthy pay their fair share—these days, some of the richest and many corporations pay no tax. We can work together to strengthen unions and rid ourselves of anti-union laws, ironically called right-to-work laws.

Most important, we can vote out those who have created or abetted the current situation. That means the Donald Trump and his supporters.

I avoid political discussion in this blog, but income disparity demands that we act together to change our government and help the poorest of our citizens.

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