Category Archives: Income Inequality/Gap

The Wage Gap: No One’s Responsibility, But Everyone’s Problem

Source: Lori Allen Ford, Bryan J. Deptula, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, Published August 7, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Wage inequality in America is ballooning. The issue is receiving significant attention in the public discourse but to what avail? It is an issue that affects the entire economy although the suffering thus far has focused primarily on the lower 90% of wage earners. The long-term impacts, however, may be even more encompassing. Regardless of the potential costs, under the currently understood societal roles of corporate leaders and politicians, the issue of wage inequality is currently no one’s specific responsibility to address, but everyone’s problem. We examine the current wage status of the economic classes, the compensation practices that contribute and potential societal and economic costs if no action is taken. Finally, we consider the roles that potential players currently perform and should consider in the future to strategically address this issue.

Tackling the Global Profitarchy: Gender and the Choice of Business Sector

Source: Markus Goldstein, Paula Gonzalez Martinez, Sreelakshmi Papineni, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8865, May 24, 2019

From the abstract:
Sectoral segregation is often used to explain a large part of a well-documented gender earnings gap in business profits. Women tend to sort into different sectors than men, and the sectors dominated by women tend to be less profitable. This paper investigates the horizontal dimension of sectoral segregation by studying global data on female and male enterprises operating in sectors that are typically dominated by the same and opposite sex. The analysis uses the novel Future of Business dataset, which spans 97 countries and was administered to enterprise owners, managers, and employees who use Facebook. The analysis finds that some of the earnings gap can indeed be explained by sector choice: female-owned businesses in male-dominated sectors make significantly higher profits than those in traditionally female sectors. The evidence points to a hierarchy of earnings, with male-owned businesses in male-dominated sectors earning the most, women in male-dominated sectors and men in female-concentrated sectors in the middle tier, and women in female-concentrated sectors at the bottom. Correlational analysis suggests that women who own businesses in male-dominated sectors are younger, married, and more likely to have inherited the business than women in female-concentrated sectors. They have similar education to women in female-concentrated sectors and present higher self-efficacy but lower entrepreneurial identity and commitment to the sector. Male support networks appear to be key for female-owned firms, with co-ownership with husbands and male role models factoring into the decision to cross over.

Stranded! How Rising Inequality Suppressed Us Migration and Hurt Those Left Behind

Source: Tamim Bayoumi, Jelle Barkema, International Monetary Fund (IMF), IMF Working Paper No. 19/122, June 2019

From the abstract:
Using bilateral data on migration across US metro areas, we find strong evidence that increasing house price and income inequality has reduced long distance migration, the type most linked to jobs. For those migrating uphill, from a less to a more prosperous location, lower mobility is driven by increasing house price inequlity, as the disincentives from higher house prices dominate the incentives from higher earnings. By contrast, increasing income inequality drives the fall in downhill migration as the disincentives from lower earnings dominate the incentives from lower house prices. The model underlines the plight of those trapped in decaying metro areas-those ‘left behind’.

Is Technology Widening the Gender Gap? Automation and the Future of Female Employment

Source: Mariya Brussevich, Era Dabla-Norris, Salma Khalid, IMF Working Paper No. 19/91, May 2019

From the abstract:
Using individual level data on task composition at work for 30 advanced and emerging economies, we find that women, on average, perform more routine tasks than men/tasks that are more prone to automation. To quantify the impact on jobs, we relate data on task composition at work to occupation level estimates of probability of automation, controlling for a rich set of individual characteristics (e.g., education, age, literacy and numeracy skills). Our results indicate that female workers are at a significantly higher risk for displacement by automation than male workers, with 11 percent of the female workforce at high risk of being automated given the current state of technology, albeit with significant cross-country heterogeneity. The probability of automation is lower for younger cohorts of women, and for those in managerial positions.

Executive Paywatch 2019

Source: AFL-CIO, 2019

In 2018, CEOs of S&P 500 companies received, on average, $14.5 million in total compensation. The average S&P 500 company CEO-to-worker pay ratio was 287 to 1. The imbalance in our economy between the pay of CEOs and working people continues to be a problem.

Highest-Paid CEOs
CEO pay continues to outpace the pay of working people. In the past 10 years, CEO pay at S&P 500 companies increased more than $500,000 a year to an average of $14.5 million in 2018. Meanwhile, the average production and nonsupervisory worker saw a wage increase of $785 a year, earning on average just $39,888 in 2018.

Company Pay Ratios
Publicly traded companies are required to disclose the pay ratio between their chief executive and median employee. Company pay ratio data is important. It shows which companies are investing in their workforce to create high-wage jobs. The table below shows how companies pay their CEOs relative to their workforce.

Related:
CEOs made 287 times more money last year than their workers did
Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, June 26, 2019

Companies have finally started reporting CEO-worker pay ratios. Now we know why they fought so hard to avoid it.

Unsurprisingly, the gap is obscene. The average chief executive of an S&P 500 company earned 287 times more than their median employee last year, according to an analysis of the new federal data released Tuesday by the AFL-CIO labor federation. America’s CEOs earned a staggering $14.5 million in 2018, on average, compared to the average $39,888 that rank-and-file workers made. And CEOs got a $500,000 bump compared to the previous year, while the average US worker barely got more than $1,000. ….

…. But there is another Reagan-era policy that has contributed to skyrocketing CEO pay: stock buybacks. Corporate executives have spent trillions of dollars buying back their company’s own stocks since the 1980s to temporarily boost its value. …. Over the past 15 years or so, firms have spent an estimated 94 percent of corporate profits on buybacks and dividends. That means companies are barely investing any of their profits in their companies, or workers. Which is why we end up with charts that look like this. ….

Has Higher Education Solved the Problem? Examining the Gender Wage Gap of Recent College Graduates Entering the Workplace

Source: Xueqing Fan, Michael Sturman, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, Published June 19, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
While there has been extensive historical evidence demonstrating the gender wage gap, gains made by women in terms of higher education may be reducing the gap among those recently entering the workforce. Education is a major determinant of wage, and women are often outpacing men now in terms of educational achievement. Thus, the question remains of whether these gains in education have reduced or even eliminated gender wage inequality. This study examines the gender wage difference among new graduates with the same education level using the most recent data from National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 cohort. Despite the hope that greater representation of women with higher degrees would reduce or eliminate the gender wage gap for new entrants to the labor market, our results show that newly graduated men with an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree still earn significantly higher wages than newly graduated women with a same degree. Thus, in what we argue is a highly conservative test for the presence of the gender wage gap, the evidence strongly suggests that the wage gap is a continued and pervasive problem in the modern workplace.

Local Labor Markets in Canada and the United States

Source: David Albouy, Alex Chernoff, Chandler Lutz, Casey Warman, Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 37 no. S2, July 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We examine US and Canadian local labor markets from 1990 to 2011 using comparable household and business data. Wage levels and inequality rise with city population in both countries, albeit less in Canada. Neither country saw wage levels converge despite contrasting migration patterns from/to high-wage areas. Local labor demand shifts raise nominal wages similarly, although in Canada they attract immigrant and highly skilled workers more while raising housing costs less. Chinese import competition had a weaker negative impact on manufacturing employment in Canada. These results are consistent with Canada’s more redistributive transfer system and larger, more educated immigrant workforce.

The One Percent Have Gotten $21 Trillion Richer Since 1989. The Bottom 50% Have Gotten Poorer.

Source: Eric Levitz, New York Magazine, June 16, 2019

….Thus, whether it is truly extreme or moderate to demand sweeping changes to American capitalism depends on the degree to which the existing system aligns with common-sense views of what a just or rational economic system should look like.

Happily, the Federal Reserve just released some data that makes the state of this alignment easier to gauge. In its new Distributive Financial Accounts data series, the central bank offers a granular picture of how American capitalism has been distributing the gains of economic growth over the past three decades. Matt Bruenig of the People’s Policy Project took the Fed’s data and calculated how much the respective net worth of America’s top one percent and its bottom 50 percent has changed since 1989.

He found that America’s superrich have grown about $21 trillion richer since Taylor Swift was born, while those in the bottom half of the wealth distribution have grown $900 billion poorer…..

State of the Union: Millennial Dilemma

Source: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, May 2019

The annual Poverty and Inequality Report provides a unified analysis that brings together evidence across such issues as poverty, employment, income inequality, health inequality, economic mobility, and educational access to allow for a comprehensive assessment of where the country stands. In this year’s issue, the country’s leading experts provide the latest evidence on how millennials are faring.

Contents include:

Executive Summary
David B. Grusky, Marybeth Mattingly, Charles Varner, and Stephanie Garlow
With each new generation, there’s inevitably much angst and hand-wringing, but never have we worried as much as we worry about millennials. We review the evidence on whether all that worrying is warranted.

Racial and Gender Identities
Sasha Shen Johfre and Aliya Saperstein
The usual stereotypes have it that millennials are embracing a more diverse and unconventional set of racial and gender identities. Are those stereotypes on the mark?

Student Debt
Susan Dynarski
Often tagged the “student debt generation,” millennials took out more student loans, took out larger student loans, and defaulted more frequently. Here’s a step-by-step accounting of how we let this happen.

Employment
Harry J. Holzer
Labor force activity has declined especially rapidly among young workers. The good news: We know how to take on this problem.

Criminal Justice
Bruce Western and Jessica Simes
The imprisonment rate has fallen especially rapidly among black men. Does this much-vaunted trend conceal as much as it reveals?

Education
Florencia Torche and Amy L. Johnson
The payoff to a college degree is as high for millennials as it’s ever been. But it’s partly because millennials who don’t go to college are getting hammered in the labor market.

Income and Earnings
Christine Percheski
When millennials entered the labor market during the Great Recession and its aftermath, there were uniformly gloomy predictions about their fate. Does the evidence bear out such gloomy predictions?

Social Mobility
Michael Hout
Millennials have a mobility problem. And it’s partly because the economy is no longer delivering a steady increase in high-status jobs.

Occupational Segregation
Kim A. Weeden
Are millennial women and men working side by side in the new economy? Or are their occupations just as gender-segregated as ever?

Poverty and the Safety Net
Marybeth Mattingly, Christopher Wimer, Sophie Collyer and Luke Aylward
Millennial poverty rates at age 30 are no higher than those of Gen Xers at the same age. But this stability hides a problem: Millennials are replacing a falloff in earnings with large increases in government assistance programs.

Housing
Darrick Hamilton and Christopher Famighetti
Housing reforms during the civil rights era helped to narrow the white-black homeownership gap. But those gains have now been completely lost … and the racial gap in young-adult homeownership is larger for millennials than for any generation in the past century.

Social Networks
Mario L. Small and Maleah Fekete
Millennials are not replacing face-to-face networks with online ones. Rather, they’re a generation that’s found a way to do it all, forging new online ties while also maintaining the usual face-to-face ones.

Health
Mark Duggan and Jackie Li
It might be thought that, for all their labor market woes, at least millennials now have health care and better health. How does this story fall short?

Policy
Sheldon Danziger
A comprehensive policy agenda that could help millennials … and other generations too.