Category Archives: Income Inequality/Gap

Rising Productivity, Deepening Inequality

Source: Horst Brand, Dissent, Vol. 55 no. 4, Fall 2008

Last January, the New York Times reported that assembly line workers at Detroit automobile factories, who have been earning around $28 per hour, would be “bought out” and gradually replaced by workers earning as little as half of that. … “In one industry alone, airlines, wage and pension concessions given back to employers since 2001… totaled over $15 billion,” Writes Labor Notes. Yet, output per hour in air transportation rose at an average annual rate of 2.9 percent between 1987 and 2005, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); it rose 3.8 percent in motor vehicles manufacturing. These to examples illustrate what is happening to the bargaining power of trade unions – a steady weakening, a loss that began with the defeat of the air traffic controllers strike in 1981 by Ronald Regan’s administration, a loss, therefore, that is political in nature. And it is in this sense that we must view the widening gap between the advances of productivity and the stagnation of working people’s incomes.

The Facts About CEO Pay

Source: Economic Policy Institute, The State of Working America 2008-2009

CEO pay has emerged as a very hot topic in Washington’s debate over the proposed $700 billion Wall Street bailout. Details on the meteoric rise of CEO pay in the United States, plus comparisons to workers’ pay and to CEO pay in other leading economies, can be found in The State of Working America, 2008-2009.

The Racial Divide And The Class Struggle In The United States

Source: Michael Goldfield, WorkingUSA, Vol. 11 no. 3, September 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In this essay, Michael Goldfield examines why questions of race continue to play such a prominent role in contemporary society, particularly in undermining the potential solidarity and strength of the working-class movement, what sustains racist attitudes, practices, and institutions, especially in the face of trends in world economic development that would seem to be undermining them, and what needs to be done to overturn them.

Women’s Earnings: Federal Agencies Should Better Monitor Their Performance in Enforcing Anti-Discrimination Laws

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-799, August 11, 2008

In 2003, GAO found that women, on average, earned 80 percent of what men earned in 2000 and workplace discrimination may be one contributing factor. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor (Labor) enforce several laws intended to prevent gender pay discrimination. GAO examined (1) how EEOC enforces laws addressing gender pay disparities among private sector employers and provides outreach and what is known about its performance, and (2) how Labor enforces laws addressing gender pay disparities among federal contractors and provides outreach and what is known about its performance. GAO analyzed relevant laws, regulations, monitoring reports, and agency enforcement data and conducted interviews at the agencies’ central offices and two field offices experienced in gender pay cases.

Income Inequality in Massachusetts, 1980 – 2006

Source: Rebecca Loveland, Raija Vaisanen, Roy Williams, and Robert Nakosteen, MassBenchmarks, Vol. 10 no. 2, August 2008

This article examines changing income distribution in the state and its regions, showing a long-term pattern of increasing income inequality in the Commonwealth. The article documents a widening gap between the haves and have-nots within every region of the state and, strikingly, between the Greater Boston and Northeast regions and the rest of the Commonwealth.

Reversal of Fortune

Source: Algernon Austin, Economic Policy Institute, Briefing Paper #220, September 18, 2008

While bad economic news continues to pile up for America’s working people, the economic trends are even more disheartening for African American families. Gains made during the strong labor market of the latter 1990s business cycle have eroded, even as the economy grew significantly. On all major indicators–income, wages, employment, and poverty–African Americans lost ground between 2000 and 2007. Algernon Austin, director of EPI’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy, examines the trends and their impact in a new report: Reversal of Fortune: Economic Gains of 1990s Overturned for African Americans from 2000-07.

Executive Excess 2008: How Average Taxpayers Subsidize Runaway Pay

Source: Sarah Anderson, John Cavanagh, Chuck Collins, Mike Lapham, Sam Pizzigati, Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy, August 25, 2008

The U.S. tax code is riddled with loopholes that allow top corporate and financial leaders to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Ordinary taxpayers wind up picking up the bill – to the tune of more than $20 billion per year. All five executive-friendly tax loopholes highlighted in the report are the targets of Congressional reforms. However, these efforts have stalled in the face of fierce opposition from corporate lobby groups. The report also finds that S&P 500 CEOs averaged $10.5 million in pay in 2007, 344 times the pay of typical American workers. Compensation levels for private investment fund managers soared even further. The top 50 hedge and private equity fund managers averaged $588 million each, more than 19,000 times as much as typical U.S. workers earned.

Executive Excess 2008: How Average Taxpayers Subsidize Runaway Pay

Source: Sarah Anderson, John Cavanagh, Chuck Collins, Sam Pizzigati, Mike Lapham, United for a Fair Economy, August 25, 2008

Our 15th annual Labor Day report (with the Institute for Policy Studies) finds that tax subsidies directly related to executive pay total $20 billion. Average CEO pay is 344 times the pay of an average U.S. worker.

Growing Disparities In Life Expectancy

Source: Elise Gould, EPI, Economic Snapshot, July 16, 2008

Rising economic inequality is often discussed as a significant social problem. Too often, that claim remains unsubstantiated. Why is rising inequality so problematic? What negative impacts does it have on our living standards? One compelling example comes from research on growing socio-economic disparities in life expectancy.

New Report: Economic Status Of New York Women Has Declined

Source: Erica Williams, Institute for Women’s Policy Research in partnership with The New York Women’s Foundation, June 2008

From the press release:
Women in New York State fare worse economically than they did in 1989, according to The New York Women’s Foundation’s new report, The Economic Status of Women in New York State.

The report, researched and authored by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), examines how women in New York State fare in two areas: employment and earnings and social and economic autonomy. While the report finds substantial potential for women’s economic progress, it also depicts a stark and alarming portrait of poverty in a wealthy society, particularly for women of color.