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

The State of Working Wisconsin 2017: Facts & Figures

  • August 31, 2017
  • COWS
  • Joel Rogers, and Laura Dresser.

For more than two decades now, annually, on Labor Day, COWS reports on how working people are faring in the state. The State of Working Wisconsin, released biannually on even-numbered years since  1996, is our long-form report, and looks at the economy comprehensively from a working-family perspective. In odd-numbered years, also biannually, we provide a more abbreviated and focused report, called The State of Working Wisconsin 2017: Facts & Figures.

When Work is Not Enough: Toward Better Policy to Support Wisconsin’s Working Families

  • May 11, 2017
  • COWS
  • Laura Dresser, Javier Rodriguez, and Mel Meder.

In Wisconsin, policy makers seem to increasingly assume that work, and work alone, can provide a decent standard of living. However, working families continue to face a slew of challenges – low wages, inadequate benefits, insufficient hours – generated by the very jobs that are supposed to be the answer. This report highlights the disconnect between state policies and the realities of Wisconsin families working in jobs at or near the poverty line.

Struggling to Make Ends Meet: The Need for a Working Family Credit

This report summarizes findings from the Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice and QMark Research poll conducted in 2016 that revealed that nearly half of Hawai‘i families are living paycheck to paycheck.

It also found that six out of seven survey respondents support the concept a tax credits that let working families keep more of what they earn. In Hawai‘i, there are many working families who are doing their best, but could use assistance. A Working Family Credit is one way to help them. Read the full report.