Report: Wisconsin Income Inequality at Near Record Level
Monday, August 14, 2017
MADISON, Wis. – There is a vast gap between the incomes of the highest earners in Wisconsin and the incomes of typical Wisconsin residents, according to a new report from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy and the Wisconsin Budget Project.
In the Badger State, the top 1 percent of earners had income of $933,000 a year or higher, which is 19 times the average annual income of $48,000 that the remaining 99 percent of residents made.
Jon Peacock, the Wisconsin Budget Project’s research director, says that's a huge imbalance.
"The very high percentage of the economic growth that has occurred over the last 45 years in Wisconsin: that's gone to the top 1 percent,” he states. “They're getting almost three-fifths of the income growth that has occurred during that period of time."
The report says income inequality in Wisconsin is now back to the high levels posted just before the Great Depression in the late 1920s.
According to the authors of the report, this widening gap between the highest earners and everyone else in Wisconsin poses a hardship for the state's families, businesses and communities. All Wisconsinites pay the price if too many families and businesses fail to prosper.
Peacock says while incomes in general have been increasing, the rising tide has not lifted all boats.
"It's really held back a lot of low-income and middle income people,” he states. “And it hasn't always been that way, which is why we're optimistic that some changes in policy could result in more equitable distribution of income growth in Wisconsin."
The report makes several suggestions to mitigate the problem. Among them are working to build the skills and education of the state's workforce, having a strong child care system, and raising the minimum wage, which has been frozen in Wisconsin for nearly a decade.
"And we need to remove barriers to work that are holding people back – things like driver's license suspensions for things that have nothing to do with driving,” Peacock stresses. “We also need to protect the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicaid in Wisconsin."
The report also suggests making state taxes more equitable across income groups, saying that people with high incomes should pay at least as much taxes relative to income as people with lower incomes do.
get more stories like this via email
Congress has signed off on a bill that preserves federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. A legal expert in Wisconsin says it …
Before the pandemic, one in five people in Los Angeles County lacked consistent access to food - and in 2021, one in four low-income families …
Electric vehicles are an environmentally friendly way to get from one place to another, but the lack of charging stations often limits drivers to …
As Americans make end-of-year donations to their favorite causes, those that help children with cancer and their families say these households need …
A labor union representing agricultural workers in Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia says it isn't waiting around for federal immigration reform to …
West Virginia's prison population has ballooned, and formerly incarcerated people face numerous obstacles when they are released. A Charleston-based …
As the year comes to a close, the Sierra Club of Connecticut is looking back on some of its accomplishments and challenges. The group focuses on …
Tribal leaders from the Northwestern U.S. have been in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss how waste from mines in British Columbia is threatening …