Wealth & Income Gap Growing Quickly
Friday, November 16, 2012
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A new study based on census figures shows the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow quickly. Analysts say it's becoming a serious issue for the economy as a whole.
Stuart Frazier, an analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, says the figures show the gap has grown even faster than average here. He says by one measure the distance between the state's rich and poor households has doubled in 30 years.
"Families in the top 5 percent, their income is about 10 times as large as the poorest 20 percent of West Virginians."
Economists stress that rising inequality is not inevitable, that the gap between rich and poor actually fell between World War Two and 1970. And they say it also fell for a brief period during the economic growth of the late 90s. They say part of that was due to Clinton era tax policies and a rise in the minimum wage.
According to Elizabeth McNichol, a senior fellow with the state fiscal project of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, the gap has grown nationally for three decades, but has become worse in the last 10 years.
"When the economy has grown, the lion's share of that has gone to households at the top. What we've seen in the last decade is that the incomes of the households at the bottom are actually declining."
McNichol says inequality is bad because it makes the economy less flexible. And she says people who work hard and play by the rules should be rewarded.
"There's a question of fairness. The economic growth comes from the contributions of people in all walks of life. When your place on the income scale determines whether you get rewards for that work, then that's a problem."
She says education, job training and tax policies at the state level can make a big difference.
"Assistance in childcare, job training, transportation, health insurance can help families get jobs and move up the income scale."
get more stories like this via email
2022 was a banner year for women elected as governor. Nearly one-third of America's governors will be women next year, which is a record. Iowa …
Residential water rates in Michigan are soaring, with an estimated one out of ten households without access to or unable to afford clean water…
Fracking is a very water-intensive industry, and a new study dives into the impact of unconventional oil and gas drilling on aquatic ecosystems in …
A Bellingham man who supports people with dementia has received one of the most prestigious awards for volunteerism in Washington state. The …
Native American tribal communities and conservation groups got a big win Wednesday as President Joe Biden announced he intends to create a new nationa…
A decision could come today on Nevada's bid to become the first state in the nation to hold a Democratic primary in 2024. The Democratic National …
Snow is on the ground in much of Minnesota, but the state is coming off another warm season with notable drought conditions. Those who monitor …
By Ray Levy Uyeda for Yes! Magazine.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Greater Dakota News Service reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-…