The U.S. election is less than a month away. With so much focus on the large gap between the rich and the poor in this year’s race, a slightly altered version of James Carville’s 1992 mantra captures the election quite well: “It’s the inequality, stupid.”
Inequality divides the United States. In 2015, the top 5 percent of Americans earned about 16 times more than the bottom 10 percent. There has been some recent positive news on closing the income gap from the Census Bureau, indicating that the median household income rose by 5.2 percent between 2014 and 2015. This was the first increase since 2007 and the largest one-year gain on record. Income gains were stronger for those at the lower end of the income distribution. But another look at the data offers a much more sobering perspective. Accounting for inflation, the average American is bringing home 2.4 percent less than in 1999. The adjusted incomes of poorer households have been stagnant for even longer — approximately 40 years — while households near the top of the income scale have seen their living standards rise. Continue reading on Real Clear World.
Marianne Schneider-Petsinger is the U.S. geoeconomics fellow at Chatham House’s U.S. and the Americas Program. She is a participant in AICGS’ project “A German-American Dialogue of the Next Generation: Global Responsibility, Joint Engagement.”