Category Archives: Income Inequality/Gap

Federal Tax Burdens in Historical Perspective

Source: Aviva Aron-Dine, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, April 10, 2007

With the income-tax filing deadline approaching and many people focusing on how much they owe in taxes, it may come as a surprise that federal tax burdens for most income groups— and, in particular, for middle-income households — are at their lowest levels in decades, and were low by historical standards even before the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.

New Study Finds “Dramatic” Reduction Since 1960 In The Progressivity Of The Federal Tax System: Largest Reductions in Progressivity Occurred in 1980s and Since 2000

Source: Aviva Aron-Dine, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 29, 2007

In a new study, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, economists who have done groundbreaking work on the historical evolution of income inequality in the United States, examine how the progressivity of the federal tax system has changed over time. Unlike previous analyses, theirs examines effective federal tax rates going back to 1960, including income, payroll, corporate, and estate taxes, and provides data for income groups reaching up to the top one-hundredth of one percent (.01 percent) of the population. Several crucial findings emerge from their study.

Woe for the Working Classes

Source: Joe Connor, Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, Vol. 50 no. 2, March-April, 2007
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It is hard to find any evidence that tax increases reduce the work-effort of high-income earners, according to this economist. Meantime, traditional families in the lower-income half of our population have been faring badly for most of the past quarter century even without comparing them to the top fifth and especially to the top 5 percent who have done so well. The only good years the traditional family has had in the past twenty-five followed a tax increase in 1993. All those gains have been lost since the tax decrease in 2001.

Bad Jobs: The Overlooked Crisis in the Black Community

Source: Steven Pitts, New Labor Forum, Vol. 16 no. 1, Winter 2007

Thirty-five years after the end of the modern civil rights movement and the end of legal segregation, the United States still has a blind spot which renders invisible the impact of institutional racism on black life. In the arena of employment, this blind spot results in the limited view of the job crisis in the Black community – a view which focuses exclusively on unemployment. Just as white supremacy is rarely seen as a constituent aspect of U.S society, the plight of low-wage Black workers is rarely seen. The racism which only sees two segments of Black society – the elite who have made it and the “underclass” who has not – also keeps Blacks who toil in bad jobs in the shadows. This limited view results in a set of policies and programs which are ill equipped to address the complexities surrounding the reality of work facing Black Americans.

Unequal Pay: The Role of Gender

Source: Mohamad G. Alkadry and Leslie E. Tower, Public Administration Review, November/December 2006, Vol. 66 no. 6

This essay, reporting on the results of a large-scale nationwide survey of public employees, detects a persistent gender bias in government wages despite applicable antibias statutes, considerable advocacy by interest groups, and alleged social change over the last 30 years. A complex mix of factors contributes to this inequity, including glass ceilings, labor segregation, and shorter job tenure, presumably to fulfill traditional female family roles. So what can be done about such wage disparities based on gender?

Left Behind: Workers and Their Families in a Changing Los Angeles

Source: Alissa Anderson Garcia, David Carroll, and Jean Ross, California Budget Project, Special Report, September 2006

For generations, Los Angeles has been known as a place where one could go to achieve the American dream. Not long ago, this dream was easily realized in Los Angeles. California’s most populous county was once a place where jobs brought the middle-class lifestyle within reach of anyone who worked hard. Such jobs formed the foundation of Los Angeles’ prosperity and enabled the county to become one of the most vibrant places in California.

Over the past few decades, however, economic and demographic changes have recast the landscape of the Los Angeles economy. Today, low-wage jobs have replaced many of the jobs that once provided a gateway to a middle-class life. As the county’s labor market has changed, many Los Angeles workers and their families have been left behind. Job growth in Los Angeles has lagged that of the rest of the state, and the gap between the wages earned by workers in Los Angeles and the rest of California has widened considerably. As Los Angeles enters the twenty-first century, its promise of the good life has faded. Workers tend to have lower wages, families tend to have lower incomes, and residents have a higher rate of poverty in Los Angeles than in the rest of the state.