Income

The rise in inequality experienced in the United States in the past three-and-a-half decades is not just a story of those in the financial sector in the greater New York City metropolitan area reaping outsized rewards from speculation in financial markets. While many of the highest-income families do live in states such as New York and Connecticut, IRS data make clear that rising inequality and increases in top 1 percent incomes affect every state.

The rise between 1979 and 2007 in top 1 percent incomes relative to the bottom 99 percent represents a sharp reversal of the trend that prevailed in the mid-20th century. This earlier era was characterized by a rising minimum wage, low levels of unemployment after the 1930s, widespread collective bargaining in private industries, and a cultural and political environment in which it was outrageous for executives to receive outsized bonuses while laying off workers. Today, millions of Americans feel tremendous anxiety about their grasp on the American Dream.

Publications

State of Working North Carolina

  • September 6, 2018
  • North Carolina Justice Center
  • Alexandra Forter Sirota, Allan Freyer, Patrick McHugh, Suzy Khachaturyan, William Munn, and Hyun Namkoong
As North Carolina grapples with the best way to build stronger regional economies, policymakers should consider the central and positive role that public infrastructure can play in deepening the connections for the state’s workforce to jobs, the state’s businesses to markets and the state’s residents to well-being.
This year’s State of Working North Carolina report presents the ways in which public infrastructure and local assets — specifically, anchor institutions — can help connect workers in rural areas to jobs, boost rural communities, and contribute to more equitable growth of the state’s economy.

Closing the Gender Pay Gap in West Virginia

In 2016, West Virginia women earned just 72 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. The median earnings of full-time male workers were $12,801 higher than the median earnings of full-time women workers – a 28 percent pay gap. West Virginia has the largest pay gap out of all the surrounding states and the third highest in the nation. This is according to a West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy brief that takes a look at the full pay gap picture among working-age people throughout the state, why it exist, its short- and long-term impact and how policymakers can close the gap.

State of Working Wisconsin 2018

A decade after the Great Recession, Wisconsin’s economy, at least in employment and family income, has finally and meaningfully recovered. Unemployment and involuntary part-time employment rates are low. And, nearly a fifth of the way into this new century, the value of the median income of four-person families finally exceeds its 2000 level. This is very welcome news for working Wisconsinites.

This good news is not untarnished. Despite job gains, Wisconsin’s job growth is slow relative to the national pace. Wages are still in no way keeping pace with worker productivity. Wisconsin is comparatively weak in more lucrative occupations: professional, scientific, technical, and information. Our manufacturing sector, while growing, is a still significantly smaller than at the beginning of the century. And inequality continues to grow. One in five workers currently holds a poverty-wage job with few benefits. Rural economies are declining. Wisconsin’s black/white disparities still lead the nation.