Inequality In Focus

There is no reason to expect the economy to really hum again and inequality to decrease unless we take action to grow the economy from the middle-out.

America’s Disturbing And Pervasive Inequality, In Three Charts

The Census Bureau’s latest estimates of income and poverty released Tuesday reveal that, despite the economic recovery, inequality remains a massive problem in the United States. We’ve assembled three charts that demonstrate the how deeply the problem runs in our society:

1. Income inequality. Five years of economic recovery hasn’t resulted in any income growth for the vast majority of Americans. In 2013, the median income nationwide was $51,900, essentially unchanged from a year before and 8 percent lower than the median income in 2007, the year before the recession hit. The top five percent of earners made more than $196,000, while the bottom 10 percent made less than $12,400.

2. Racial inequality. Black and Hispanic Americans continue to lag far behind non-Hispanic white and Asian households in the amount that they ear. The median household headed by a black person earned $34,600 in 2013 and the median household headed by a Hispanic person earned $41,000. That’s compared to $58,300 for the median white, non-Hispanic household and $67,100 for the median Asian household.

race inequality

3. Gender inequality. We wrote yesterday about how the gender wage gap hasn’t budged from last year: women earn just 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. But the poverty rate is higher for women than it is for men as well. The Census found that 15.8 percent of women live in poverty, compared to 13.1 percent of men. And as the chart below demonstrates, the poverty gap between men and women grows as the population ages.


CREDIT: U.S. Census Bureau

BOTTOM LINE: Five years into the economic recovery, middle class Americans are still struggling to make ends meet. But there is no reason to expect the economy to really hum again and inequality to decrease unless we take action to address the problems. That means supporting policies like these that help working families, not the rich, and that grow the economy from the middle-out, not the top-down.

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