Category Archives: Income Inequality/Gap

What A Recession Means For Black America

Source: Algernon Austin, Economic Policy Institute, EPI Issue Brief #241, January 18, 2008

Recessions hurt. And they hurt the poor and socially marginalized populations the most. As we face the prospect of the second recession of the decade and consider the merits of various stimulus packages, it is useful to examine what a recession would mean for black America.

The late 1990s produced a full employment economy and significant absolute and relative economic gains for blacks. This Issue Brief contrasts the benefits of a national full-employment economy with the harm caused by the 2001 recession and the weak job growth that followed.

Foreclosed: State of the Dream 2008

Source: Amaad Rivera, Brenda Cotto-Escalera, Anisha Desai, Jeannette Huezo, and Dedrick Muhammad, United for a Fair Economy, January 15, 2008

This report finds that due to racial bias, people of color are being hit especially hard by the current subprime lending crisis. As homes are foreclosed and families of color find themselves in financial ruin, the racial and economic equality that Martin Luther King, Jr. once envisioned is moving even further out of reach. We found the estimated total loss of wealth for people of color to be between $164 billion and $213 billion for subprime loans taken during the past eight years. This breaks down to losses of between $71 billion and $92 billion for Black/African-American borrowers, and between $75 billion and $98 billion for Latino borrowers for the same period.

Economic Mobility of Families Across Generations

Source: Julia Isaacs, Economic Mobility Project, Pew Charitable Trusts, 11/13/2007

“Doing better” than one’s parents has long been a key element of the American Dream. The story embedded in our history suggests any person can start from humble beginnings and achieve great wealth, or at least reach the middle class. But are Americans today better off than their own parents were? How much does their eventual success depend on their family background?

Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2006

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report 1000, September 2007

In 2006, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $600, or about 81 percent of the $743 median for their male counterparts. This ratio has grown since 1979 (the first year comparable earnings data were available), when women earned about 63 percent as much as men.

2007-2008 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard

Source: Corporation for Enterprise Development, 2007

From the summary:
The 2007-2008 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard contains evidence that even profound and enduring ownership patterns can change and change fast. In the two years since the release of the 2005 Scorecard, median net worth jumped 20% nationwide, while it jumped 68% for women and more than doubled for minorities. Most of these gains have come as a result of increasing homeownership and home values, and are therefore at risk that as interest rates rise and grace periods end, foreclosure rates will also rise. The results underscore the efficacy of housing finance and credit innovation and the need for policing and reigning-in predatory lending.

Yet, the most important message of the 2007-2008 Scorecard, like its two predecessors, is the disparity in asset ownership – and, consequently, economic opportunity–among states, and by race, gender and income.

Guide to the Scorecard

Job Quality and Black Workers: An Examination of the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York

Source: Steven C. Pitts, UC Berkeley Labor Center, August 2007

From the press release:
A new report by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education finds that more than half of black workers in the United States have jobs that don’t pay well, provide retirement and health benefits, or offer avenues for advancement.
• The report, “Job Quality and Black Workers: An Examination of the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York,” analyzes low wage jobs among black workers, using data from the 2000 U.S. Census.

+ Executive Summary

The Best and Worst State Economies for Women

Source: Heidi Hartmann, Olga Sorokina, and Erica Williams, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, IPWR Briefing Paper R334, December 2006

Women have made dramatic economic progress throughout the United States, especially since the 1960s. Yet, women have fared much better in some states than in others, and in no state do women fare as well economically as men. On several indicators, women have experienced important gains in the nearly two decades that the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) has been tracking these data. For example, women are more likely than men to be employed in managerial or professional jobs and to have health insurance coverage. At the same time, women still earn less, are less likely to have a Bachelor’s or professional degree, or to own a business, and are more likely to live in poverty than men across the states. With median annual earnings of $31,800, women employed full-time, year-round in the United States still earn only 77.0 percent of what men earn. Of all civilian women aged 16 and older, only 59.2 percent are in the labor force, compared with 71.8 percent of men.

Income Down, Poverty Up Since 2000

Source: Joint Economic Committee, press release, August 28, 2007

Follow up to August 28, 2007 posting Census Bureau Reports Household Income Rises, Poverty Rate Declines, see today’s press release: “Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Vice Chair of the JEC, today reacted to the U.S. Census Bureau’s release of its 2006 report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage in the United States. Although median household income rose slightly in 2006, after adjusting for inflation, the report showed that all but the richest of American households have seen their incomes decline since 2000. The Census Bureau also revealed that while the national poverty rate declined by 0.3% in 2006, the number of people in poverty living in poverty has risen by 4.9 million since 2000, an increase in the poverty rate of one percentage point. Additionally, the number of children under 18 in poverty has skyrocketed under the Bush Administration, rising 10.7 percent in the last 6 years.”

The JEC also released three fact sheets taking an in depth look at the findings in the Census Report:
The Number of Americans without Health Insurance Rose Again in 2006
Household Income Up Slightly in 2006, but Down Since 2000
Nearly One in Eight Americans Living in Poverty

Tax Fairness, the 2001-2006 Tax Cuts, and the AMT

Source: Leonard E. Burman, The Urban Institute, Testimony before the Committee on Ways and Means, September 6, 2007

From the summary:
In this testimony Burman discusses the issues of tax fairness, the 2001 to 2006 tax cuts, and the individual alternative minimum tax. Burman argues that while the federal tax system mitigates economic inequality, the recent tax cuts have disproportionately benefited those at the top, while also increasing the number of people potentially subject to the AMT. He concludes with a brief discussion of how to fix the AMT in a fiscally responsible manner.

Related articles:
The Effect of the 2001-06 Tax Cuts on After-Tax Incomes
Source: Jason Furman, The Brookings Institution, Testimony Before the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, September 6, 2007

Monthly Labor Review: July/August 2007

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 130 nos. 7/8, July/August 2007
Categories: Income Inequality/Gap, Safety & Health, Statistics, Workforce

Articles include: Price highlights, 2006: energy goods retreat, moderating producer prices; Railroad-related work injury fatalities; Earnings by gender: evidence from Census 2000; Labor force status of families: a visual essay.