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Opinion Study: Inequality Robs $2.5 Trillion From U.S. Workers Each Year

01:45  15 september  2020
01:45  15 september  2020 Source:   nymag.com

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Every few months, some group of socially-conscious number crunchers will remind Americans that a tiny elite is binge-eating the nation’s economic pie while the rest of us plebeians fight over table scraps. Journalists will then aggregate eye-popping statistics and edifying charts, progressives will share these over social media, adorned with red-faced (and/or guillotine) emoji — and the moral arc of history will carry on bending towards neofeudalism.

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The shortage of workers with at least an associate or bachelor’ s degree in the labor force will end up costing the U . S . economy . 2 trillion over the next Education has historically had the power to unlock workers ’ potential for better job opportunities and higher pay. With increased spending power

Start studying Chapter 9. Learn vocabulary, terms and more with flashcards, games and other study tools. In the U . S . data, output and capital per worker have both grown at about 2 percent per year for the past half-century. C. The question provides us with the following information about each country

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So, in the present moment of booming stock markets and child hunger, you might be feeling too inured to America’s grotesque levels of inequality to summon much interest in yet another report testifying to the one percent’s total victory in the 50 Years Class War.

But a new study from the Rand Corporation, in partnership with the Fair Work Center, illustrates the impact of a half-century of upward redistribution in bracingly concrete terms: If income had been distributed as evenly over the past five decades as it was in 1975, the median full-time worker in the U.S. would enjoy annual earnings of roughly $92,000 a year. As is, that worker makes just $50,000.

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A study from NerdWallet predicts that students who graduated from college in 2015 will have to delay retirement until the age of 75, in part because of the increasing burden of student debt. Experts predict that the future job market will require a significant increase in skilled workers .

It’s no secret that wage and productivity growth began decoupling in the 1970s. Charts like this one from the Economic Policy Institute have been ubiquitous in progressive economic policy debates since the Great Recession:

But RAND’s innovative methodology – which involved constructing a new metric for inequality that compares income growth to GDP, and then using that metric to gauge changes in the income distribution across every U.S. business cycle since 1975 – allowed it to translate the abstractions of macro-level income shares into something much more tangible. Between the mid-1970s and 2018, per capita GDP growth in the U.S. increased by 118 percent. Had income growth on every rung of America’s class ladder kept pace with those gains, annual earnings at the bottom would be nearly twice as high as they are now. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of U.S. earners would collectively take home $2.5 trillion more in income each year.

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A working mother will have extra expenses like clothing, transportation, and child care that a nonworking mother will not face, making the economic gains from working even smaller. In the U . S ., government support programs that are focused specifically on the poor include which of the following?

And that works well for adding and subtracting, because if we add (or subtract) the same amount from both sides, it does not affect the inequality . First, let us clear out the "/ 2 " by multiplying both sides by 2 . Because we are multiplying by a positive number, the inequalities will not change.

There are a few significant limitations to RAND’s data. Chief among these is that the study only measures taxable income, which does not capture any potential increase in non-monetary forms of compensation, such as healthcare benefits. There is no question that such perks make up a larger share of labor’s compensation today than they did in 1975. That may say more about runaway rent-seeking in America’s health-care system than it does about worker’s true income gains. But a perfect apples-to-apples comparison would take note of the value of benefits.

Separately, it seems likely that had America’s income distribution held constant since 1975, inflation would have been much higher in recent decades – and thus, “2018 dollars” in the counterfactual universe would be worth less than they are in our own. The reason for this is simple: Rich people have a lower propensity to consume each additional dollar of income than working people do. Thus, if you concentrate income gains among the rich, the bulk of those dollars will be invested; which is to say, they will be used to bid up the prices of stocks and real-estate. If you concentrate income gains among workers, meanwhile, the bulk of those gains will be spent on goods and services, thereby bidding up consumer prices.

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Five years later, unemployment rates have only recently dropped below 8 percent, and the slow recovery has disproportion-ately affected 1 See projections by industry for more detailed analysis. 2 People working at more than one job make the job numbers appear slightly larger than the workforce.

Russia' s income inequality ranking has been fairly stable: in 2004, the top decile held 30.5% of the country' s income (placing Russia 26th out of 70 countries). Currently, their share remains at 46% in Russia, compared to 41% in China, 37% in Europe, and 47% in the U . S . and Canada.

This is a crucial part of the inequality story in the United States. Under Paul Volcker’s leadership, the Federal Reserve consciously sought to overcome the high inflation of the late 1970s by breaking the bargaining power of U.S. workers, and reducing labor’s share of income. Thanks to the Reagan revolution, among other things, the central bank accomplished this objective too well. Now, instead of contending with inflationary pressures, the Fed must make increasingly audacious interventions in capital markets to ward off the perennial threat of consumer price deflation – even as asset prices rise to evermore spectacular highs.

Nevertheless, RAND’s projections remain a useful aproximation. Although the income distribution it posits would probably be one more vulnerable to inflation, it would also probably be more conducive to economic growth. In 2014, OECD economists estimated that increases in income inequality had reduced U.S. GDP growth by as much as 8 percentage points over the preceding two decades.

Further, if we acknowledge that economic power is easily translated into the political variety, it seems likely that in RAND’s counterfactual universe, ordinary Americans would enjoy more generous social benefits and workplace protections than they do in our dimenston.  Thus, even if we stipulate that a more equitable income distribution would mean a weaker dollar in 2018, it’s possible that RAND’s counterfactual underestimates what the real value of the median workers’ annual income would have been under such a distribution.

Regardless, the paper makes the radical regressivism of the contemporary U.S. political economy plain to see. Progressives often mock nostalgic invocations of some bygone golden era in American life, noting that the postwar period was less than “great” for Black Americans in the Jim Crow South, or women trying to make a place for themselves in the professions. And this allergy to white male-centric nostalgia has much to recommend it. But it is also the case that the first three decades after the Second World War witnessed a degree of shared prosperity that was never seen before or since. And if the income distribution of 1975 had been maintained over the ensuing decades, according to RAND’s methodology, wages for most Black workers would be nearly twice as high as they are now.

Actually-existing America has a lot of problems, many of which cannot be reduced to questions of economics or class power. But it is hard not to suspect that most of our nation’s troubles would be less severe, if America’s working-class had an extra $2.5 trillion to spend each year.

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