- August 1, 2017
- Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS)
- Staff Report
As the economy grows, the gains are concentrated on the state’s richest residents. Inequality is on the rise, both nationally and in Wisconsin. Over the last 40 years, Wisconsin’s richest residents have experienced dramatic increases in income, yet the rest of the state’s residents have experienced little or no income growth. The widening chasm between the very highest earners and everyone else poses hardships for Wisconsin’s families, businesses, and communities. Families can’t thrive when income growth is nearly non-existent for everyone except those at the top, and businesses need a strong middle class bolstered by broad-based income growth to generate customers. Wisconsin communities pay the price if too many families and businesses fail to prosper. Growing income inequality is also bad for Wisconsin’s economic growth. To build a solid, fast-growing economy, we need to make sure that Wisconsin has a healthy, well-educated workforce. But if nearly all the gains from economic growth benefit only a few, many Wisconsin residents won’t have the resources they need to become the kind of skilled workers our economy needs for the future. That hurts everyone. All figures in this report come from Income Inequality in the U.S. by State, Metropolitan Area, and County, 1917 to 2014, a dataset developed by Estelle Sommeiller, Mark Price, and Ellis Wazeter for the Economic Analysis and Research Network that includes information about top incomes at the state and local levels. Income figures are presented in 2015 dollars.