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inequality

Twelve charts about American inequality, compiled by the Economic Policy Institute, depict data about issues that include stagnant wages and wealth gaps based on race. (Photo: Dean Chahim/flickr/cc)

How Massive Inequality Permeates 'All Areas of American Society' in 12 Simple Charts

"Unfortunately the policy focus on the last year, culminating in the end-of-year passage of massive tax cuts for corporations, addressed nonexistent problems rather than the real problems we face."

Jessica Corbett

On the heels of congressional Republicans pushing through a tax plan that experts warn will further exacerbate rampant inequality across the United States, a dozen charts from the Economic Policy Institute on Thursday reveal how vast inequities "permeate all areas of American society," from stagnant wages and wealth gaps based on race to poor educational opportunities for children from lower-income families.

"Unfortunately the policy focus on the last year, culminating in the end-of-year passage of massive tax cuts for corporations, addressed nonexistent problems rather than the real problems we face," lamented EPI in a statement alongside the charts.

The data displayed in EPI's 12 charts show how union membership impacts wages, how Congress has failed with regard to the federal minimum wage, and how the corporate tax rate, which was just drastically reduced under Trump and the GOP's tax plan, has actually impacted businesses' profits. One chart demonstrates how significant cuts to safety net programs—seen as congressional Republicans' next major target—will force millions of Americans into poverty.

"For example, eliminating food stamps would push 3.6 million people, including 1.5 million children, into poverty, as measured by the Supplemental Poverty Measure," EPI notes. "This cut alone would raise the total number of people in poverty to more than 48 million."

Other key findings include:

  • the U.S. economy is more equitable when workers have the freedom to join together and bargain collectively through a union;
  • since the 1970s Congress has failed to adjust the minimum wage to match the economy's capacity for higher wages—leaving low-wage workers behind;
  • corporate taxes as a share of the U.S. economy have been extraordinarily low in recent years, even as corporate profits have been historically high; and
  • 26 states have laws on the books that prohibit cities and counties from enacting policies that raise standards for working people.

Here they are:

1. When workers have more leverage, income growth is more equal.

When workers have more leverage, income growth is more equal

2. Working people saving for retirement are losing billions as the administration delays a rule protecting them against financial advisers with conflicts of interest.

Working people saving for retirement are losing billions as the administration delays a rule protecting them against financial advisers with conflicts of interest

3. The U.S. economy can afford a $15 minimum wage.

The U.S. economy can afford a $15 minimum wage

4. The U.S. economy is not suffering from “too high” corporate taxes.

The U.S. economy is not suffering from “too high” corporate taxes

5. Cuts to social programs would push millions of Americans into poverty.

Cuts to social programs would push millions of Americans into poverty

6. The racial wealth gap is the clearest legacy of past discrimination in housing markets.

The racial wealth gap is the clearest legacy of past discrimination in housing markets

7. Gender and racial pay gaps are not simply a function of voluntary occupational choice.

Gender and racial pay gaps are not simply a function of voluntary occupational choice

8. Steady increase in the share of prime-age adults with jobs was underway before the current administration took office.

Steady increase in the share of prime-age adults with jobs was underway before the current administration took office

9. Monthly private-sector job growth was slower in 2017 than previous years.

Monthly private-sector job growth was slower in 2017 than previous years

10. Median household income made historic gains from 2014 to 2016.

Median household income made historic gains from 2014 to 2016

11. Income-based skills gaps are present in kindergarten.

Income-based skills gaps are present in kindergarten

12. City governments are raising standards for working people—but too often state legislators are lowering them back down.

City governments are raising standards for working people—but too often state legislators are lowering them back down

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