Concerns about inequality are sure to intensify as the 2016 presidential campaigns take off. During the most recent Federal Reserve meeting on economic projections and interest rates, economists spoke out against raising rates on the grounds that doing so might hurt the labor market. There was even a protest at the Fed’s Jackson Hole summer retreat opposing central bank actions that could hurt wage growth for most Americans.
But some people take a rosier view. For example, according to Bloomberg Business, Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase’s CEO, had the following to say:
“It’s not right to say we’re worse off,” Dimon said Thursday at an event in Detroit in response to a question about declining median income. “If you go back 20 years ago, cars were worse, health was worse, you didn’t live as long, the air was worse. People didn’t have iPhones.”
According to economist Melissa Kearney at The Hamilton Project, one other thing isn’t quite what it was 20 years ago: income inequality. In fact, it’s much worse: Between 1947 and 1975, a period of strong economic growth, the families at the bottom 20 percent saw their income grow by 90 percent. Compare that with the period from 1975 to 2010, when families in the bottom 20 percent only saw their income grow by 3.7 percent while the top 5 percent saw average income gains of 57 percent. The most recent Census reports that there are 46.7 million people in poverty in 2014—with the poverty rate among blacks an Hispanics well over 20 percent.