Income Inequality Has Gone Up

The chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Jason Furman, recently wrote in the Washington Post that "Last year saw the largest single-year reduction in poverty since the 1960s."

Furman's claim is echoed by a recent Census Bureau report that showed that the typical household saw its income grow by about $2,800 - the fastest rate on record.

But while those numbers seem rosy - they are hardly enough to conclusively say that the U.S economy is healthy.

For one - the media celebrated the household income figures despite the fact that any two or more people living in the same residence are considered a "household" - and the figures don't necessarily reflect anything about personal income.

But according to Nick Buffie at the Center for Economic and Policy Research - "Income Inequality Has Gone Up Whether We Look At Households or Individuals".

Buffie writes that whether you look at personal - family - or household income, "No matter how you toy with the precise definition of income, it's clear that inequality has gone up: by all three metrics, median income growth failed to keep pace with overall growth from 1974 to 2015."


ruthkelso's picture
ruthkelso 7 years 34 weeks ago

Last year, 0% COLA for Social Security. This year, .03% COLA for Social Security. That means that this year I will get a 30 cent raise each month, which works out to be about $3.60 increase in my Social Security for the ENTIRE YEAR. Now, that is going to make a heck of a dent in my rent. So those who say we're better off than we were last year, I guess they're correct. They're correct, but it really isn't right.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 7 years 34 weeks ago

How would anyone know? We used to estimate poverty by adding UI and welfare statistics. When actual welfare ended, so did those statistics. Americans (liberals included) have simply done a good job of disappearing the issue. The fact is, we have no way to determine how many Americans have no legal means of providing for themselves today.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 7 years 34 weeks ago

Over the last ten years, those on Social Security Disability only received a couple of COLA increases.

Some years ago, the elderly poor and the disabled on Socuial Security were enrolled in food stamps. Congress kicked off 2015 with virtually ending food stamps, cutting those benefits from $115 per month, down to $10.

commchf 7 years 34 weeks ago

The GOP has become a terrorist organization. They spread fear and doubt as a political objective, ie. Caucus Room in 2009,leading to the TP; but now they believe it. It's personal so it's emotional.

KCRuger's picture
KCRuger 7 years 34 weeks ago

So what is the current median income after said $2800 gain? I suspect it is below $60K. Well, it was $58K in 1999! This stat obviously includes all the ill-gotten gains of the 1%; that needs to be eliminated from the conversation to get a true picture. Then there is the time value of money thing; adjusted for inflation, we are nowhere near recovered.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 34 weeks ago

The Fascists/capitalists love a low income society. To make ends meet, citizens have to take on extra work which tightens the job market, and that in turn keeps wages low. It's a time tested strategy to keep all new income growth flowing to the top.

At least with Trump we have had a glimpse of the inner workings of a typical Fascist/capitalist. ...unregulated and totally out of control.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 34 weeks ago

DHBranski: As I'm sure you already know, government owned and manipulated by money and power foments the poverty you so much want to end.

Self serving Teabaggers like Paul Ryan, the type Thomas Paine warned us about, need to exit government employment for poverty to lesson in this country.

Guys like Trump own guys like Paul Ryan....that's a fact.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 34 weeks ago

KCRuger -- Just a mathematics thing. The median is used because it is not effected by any large numbers above the 50% level. Average or per capita numbers are quoted by the right wing to cover up the huge ill-gotten gains of the 1% (more like the 0.01%).

Legend 7 years 34 weeks ago

The 1% owns the majority of the House and Senate. They get what they want.

KCRuger's picture
KCRuger 7 years 34 weeks ago

@chuckle8: My stats classes were 30 years ago, but I do remember that the median simply means 50% are above & 50% are below that number, so yes, it is affected by the large numbers at the right end of the spectrum, just not to the extent that the avg. or per-capita is.

Mark Warns's picture
Mark Warns 7 years 34 weeks ago

People need to realize that economic despair is an industry in America, so don't get buried in bad news.

I'm an independent financial aid analyst from Western Washington State, and I'm in my fourth year of publishing a free website targeted at "Pell Kids", the children of middle and lower income American families. My purpose is to help them find colleges they can really afford using freely accessible tools on the Net.

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Enjoy it, please forward it to your friends, and remember:


chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 34 weeks ago

KCRuger -- My stat classes were 50 years ago. Any number above the 50% level has zero effect on the median.

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