The Economic Landscape

Outcomes for working families

Family income growth was both faster and more uniform across income quintiles (and the top 5%) in the quarter century after World War II relative to what came after.

The rise in income inequality can even be found within the top 5%, as most of the gains in this group were claimed by the top 1%, which nearly doubled its share of overall income growth in the past 30 years.

The slowdown in income growth in the past 30 years cannot be accounted for by families trading cash income for improvements in other facets of economic security. For example, the improvements in the share of the under-65 population with health insurance during the 1960s and 1970s came to a halt in the mid-1980s, and has been roughly stuck in neutral since.

A sub-group of this top 1% is the top management at corporations. In the past 30 years the ratio between what they earn versus what rank-and-file workers earn has exploded.

As economic inequality began to rise in the late 1970s, the link between overall economic growth and falling rates of poverty was severed. If it had not been, poverty would have disappeared a generation ago in this country.

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