Category Archives: Income Inequality/Gap

Gender (in)Equality in the Labour Market

Source: Stephen Glenn, Simone Melis, Louisa Withers, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), 2009

From the press release:
A new report released by the ITUC for March 8, International Women’s Day, has revealed that the pay gap between men and women worldwide may be much higher than official government figures. The report, “Gender (in)Equality in the Labour Market”, is based on survey results of some 300,000 women and men in 20 countries. It puts the global pay gap at up to 22%, rather than the 16.5% figure taken from official government figures and released by the ITUC on March 8 last year.

The report also confirms previous findings that union membership, and particularly the inclusion of women in collective bargaining agreements, leads to much better incomes for both women and men, as well as better pay for women relative to their male co-workers
See also:
video on maternity protection

Paying for a Strong Economy: Seven New Revenue Sources to Revitalize America and Reduce Financial Speculation

Source: John Cavanagh, Chuck Collins, Alison Goldberg, Sam Pizzigati, Institute for Policy Studies, February 2009

Where will the money come from to create jobs, reform health care and build a green infrastructure?

In our new report, IPS and Wealth for the Common Good identify $500 billion in new revenue with targeted tax hikes on the wealthy, closing overseas tax havens and levies on speculative investment. “Paying for a Strong Economy: Seven New Revenue Sources to Revitalize America and Reduce Financial Speculation”, argues that taxes on the wealthy don’t hurt consumption and discourage the type of speculation that fueled the high-tech and housing bubbles.

Social Murder: The Long-Term Effects of Conservative Economic Policy

Source: Robert Chernomas and Ian Hudson, International Journal of Health Services, Volume 39, Number 1, 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In this article, the authors take inspiration from Engels’s 1845 account of the social murder committed by British capitalists to assess the contemporary impact of conservative economic policy, which they define as policies designed to maximize the accumulation of profit while socializing the associated risks and costs. Conservative economists argue that if their policy prescription is followed, it will produce broad-based economic benefits including more rapid growth, higher incomes, less illness, and, even, more democracy. The authors contrast the myth of conservative economic policy with the reality. What conservative economic policy has actually accomplished is a redistribution of wealth and power away from the vast majority of the population to firms and their owners. The effects of these policies on citizens and workers have been socially determined economic instability, unemployment, poverty, inequality, dangerous products, and infectious and chronic disease.

The Silent Depression: State of the Dream 2009

Source: Jeannette Huezo, Christina Kasica, Dedrick Muhammad, Amaad Rivera, Inequality and the Common Good, January 15, 2009

In this year’s report, we found that people of color are experiencing a silent economic depression. It’s silent because it’s going unnoticed, unacknowledged, and unaddressed — and yet the evidence is striking.

While the general population has been in recession for one year, people of color have been in recession for five years. By definition, a long-term recession is a depression.

We detail additional evidence that shows the current racial economic inequity, including poverty rates, wealth and assets and economic mobility. While racial barriers did not prevent an African American from becoming president, they continue to impede many people of color from achieving the same economic success as their white counterparts.

U.S. Intragenerational Economic Mobility From 1984 to 2004 : Trends and Implications

Source: Gregory Acs, Seth Zimmerman, Urban Institute, November 01, 2008

This report explores how Americans have moved up and down the income ladder over the last two decades, and whether it has been more difficult for Americans to get and stay ahead in the last decade. The report focuses on intragenerational mobility: how individuals change economic positions within their own lifetimes.

Distribution of Income Tax Noncompliance

Source: Andrew Johns – Internal Revenue Service and Joel Slemrod – University of Michigan, September 12, 2008

From the Citizens for Tax Justice:
A new report by Joel Slemrod of the University of Michigan and Andrew Johns of the IRS finds that more income is hidden from the IRS by higher-income people. The report uses data from the National Research Program (NRP) Individual Income Tax Reporting Compliance Study for the 2001 tax year. This is the same data that was used to produce the famous conclusion that the tax gap (the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid) for that year was $290 billion. The authors supplement this data with estimates of additional unreported income by the IRS. They find that people whose real adjusted gross income (AGI) is between half a million and a million dollars fail to report 21 percent of their income on average. By contrast, those with real AGI between $40,000 and $50,000 fail to report just 7 percent of their income.

Growing Unequal?

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 2008
(subscription required)

From the press release:
The gap between rich and poor has grown in more than three-quarters of OECD countries over the past two decades, according to a new OECD report.

OECD’s Growing Unequal? finds that the economic growth of recent decades has benefitted the rich more than the poor. In some countries, such as Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States, the gap also increased between the rich and the middle-class.

Countries with a wide distribution of income tend to have more widespread income poverty. Also, social mobility is lower in countries with high inequality, such as Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, and higher in the Nordic countries where income is distributed more evenly.
Related article:
Study: Gap Growing Between Rich and Poor
Source: Associated Press, October 21, 2008

Who Mops The Floors At The Fortune 500? Corporate Self-Regulation and The Low-Wage Workplace

Source: Cynthia Estlund, Lewis and Clark Law Review, Vol. 12 no. 3, August 2008

Rising inequality in the U.S. is reflected and largely created in the labor market, and in the huge and growing disparity in wages and working conditions between the top and the bottom. In particular, the meager and often illegal wages and working conditions in the low-wage labor market pose a threat not only to the well-being of the working poor but to the health of our democratic society. So what is to be done? Both labor law reform that enables workers to form unions and stronger public enforcement of labor standards are essential, but are unlikely to fill the enforcement gap. This Essay finds a partial solution to the problem of underenforcement in the fact that many low-wage workers supply labor–sometimes directly but often through one or more layers of contract–to large firms with prodigious internal regulatory resources and a large stake in their reputations as responsible corporate citizens. The law has already moved, and could productively be pushed further, in the direction of encouraging, shaping, and relying upon compliance structures within regulated entities themselves. Both law and society have also taken steps toward holding large firms responsible for the illegal conditions that prevail at the bottom of their supply chains. But more can and should be done to encourage the large and rich firms that are reaping the greatest profits from globalization to take responsibility for securing decent minimum wages and working conditions for the workers who supply them with essential labor inputs.
See also:
Jeffrey D. Jones, The Unaffordable Nation: Searching For A Decent Life in America, 2007

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.