The unemployment rate may be down, but the income inequality rate keeps going up. And it’s impossible not to notice it.
A Federal Reserve report released earlier this month noted that while income grew between 2010 and 2013 for the top fifth of income earners (those making more than $122,000 a year), real incomes have fallen for everyone else. Only those who were doing well in the U.S. to begin with are making out in today’s economy.
It’s not a pretty picture for middle-income families, even those towards the top of the income scale. As the document states, “Families in the middle and upper middle parts (between 40th and 90th percentiles) of the income distribution saw little change in average real incomes between 2010 and 2013 and thus have failed to recover the losses experienced between 2007 and 2010.”
And others are also reporting grim numbers. The Census Bureau noted this week that the Gini Index, a national measure of income inequality, shows the divide between the haves and have-nots continues to grow despite our supposed economic rebound. Only one state, Alaska, saw its index score decline, while 15 saw it increase in 2013.
So who’s to blame for this? Well, the government and the private sector have both played a role. Some suggest that the Federal Reserve’s policies have created an atmosphere that has resulted in the top three percent claiming 30.5 percent of all income last year. But Congress – led by its most conservative elements – have certainly failed by creating more and more corporate tax breaks while refusing to raise the minimum wage.
Of course, big business could take its own steps to try and rectify the problem. However, except for a few companies like Costco, they haven’t. The latest example of corporate cheapness is at Marriott Hotels, which just this week launched a campaign to try and encourage more of its guests to tip their housekeeping staff. Of course, this totally overlooks that fact that the hospitality giant could also just pony up more funds itself. By the way, Marriott took in almost $13 billion in revenue in 2013.
Every day, it seems, there is more and more news about how hardworking Americans are falling further and further behind. The evidence is overwhelming. And yet there is nothing being done by Congress to change it. Well, workers can do something about it – they can vote on Nov. 4.
And if they do, lawmakers who have opposed basic economic fairness will get the message.