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

New Hampshire’s Economy: Strengths and Constraints

New Hampshire has experienced a relatively robust economy in recent years. Growth has returned to rates similar to those from before the Great Recession, and the unemployment rate has remained below three percent since late 2015. Incomes appear to have increased for workers, with many middle- and low-income workers finally returning to near pre-Recession levels of income. However, job creation has been strongest in industries with wages below statewide averages and has been uneven in different regions of the state, while both housing and workforce constraints are likely limiting economic growth.

The New Hampshire economy is strong and growing, yet there are challenges to economic growth and to improving livelihoods for all the state’s residents. This Issue Brief explores New Hampshire’s overall economic output, areas of employment growth since the Recession, changes in income for workers and poverty rates, indicators of workforce constraints, and county-level data.

Tending to the Nest Egg: Plan Could Help Nonprofit Workers Build Retirement Security

In late 2017, Massachusetts launched a state-administered 401(k) plan that small nonprofits — those with 20 employees or fewer — can join5. The plan is administered through the Office of the State Treasurer and Receiver General, which will take on the bulk of the administrative responsibilities. This assists employers with some of the challenges that deter them from offering plans to their workers. And, because of economies of scale, the plan sponsor is better equipped to offer lower fees and expenses than typical private plans.

Massachusetts is one of the only states that has successfully implemented retirement reform and has a program up and running6. This plan — known as the Connecting Organizations to Retirement (CORE) Plan — can begin to address some of the barriers to retirement security for workers in the nonprofit sector.

Who Really Pays: An analysis of the tax structures in 15 cities throughout Washington State

Many Washingtonians feel they are heavily taxed. They are – if they’re working class or middle class. Wealthy residents pay a tax rate many times lower than the rates other people pay. But due to our opaque tax system, it’s hard to understand how much we pay in taxes, or how much other people are.

This report compares the tax obligations of households at the $25,000, $50,000, $75,000, $100,000, $150,000 and $250,000 income levels in Bellevue, Bellingham, Everett, Federal Way, Kent, Olympia, Pasco, Pullman, Renton, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Wenatchee and Yakima. In Seattle, the combination of state and local taxes results in a system which relies much more heavily on taxes on the people least able to pay, while not imposing significantly higher taxes on the wealthy.

This report also compares job growth in states and cities with their income tax structures and effective tax rates on wealthy households. In neither case is there any correlation.

Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector

The retail sector is an integral part of the Los Angeles landscape with almost half a million
workers in the county, and 147,157 workers in the city. Retail makes up one-tenth of
the private sector workforce in the county and is its second largest employer. Yet more
than half of the county’s workforce earn low wages. In the past few years, local and
statewide policies have focused on transforming low-wage work, including a raise in the
minimum wage, increased worker protections, and required paid time off. Despite the
statewide strengthening of workers’ rights protections, the unreliable hours and unpredictable
schedules endemic in the retail industry mean these benefits become inaccessible
to many workers. In part, the retail industry relies on scheduling practices that are
not good for workers, such as forcing them to wait for their weekly schedules with only
a few days notice. These practices not only undercut workers’ hours and their expectations
thereof, but also their incomes, and can make it nearly impossible for workers to
realize full and healthy lives.

Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector explores worker hours
and scheduling practices for “frontline floor” staff that include salespersons, cashiers,
stockers, and food workers in large and chain stores. We used a participatory and research
justice approach and worked with students, workers, and community partners to
collect and analyze the data. Using mixed-sampling methodology, we collected a total
of 818 surveys. In addition, we analyzed government data and conducted an extensive
review of existing policy and academic literature on the topic.