Federal data released Thursday showed U.S. income inequality in 2018 reached the highest level since the Census Bureau began measuring it five decades ago, a finding that comes less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump said "inequality is down."
The Census survey found that the nation's Gini Index—which measures inequality on a 0 to 1 scale, with 0 representing perfect equality—reached 0.485 in 2018.
In 1967, the U.S. Gini Index was 0.397.
"The separation between rich and poor from 2017 and 2018 was greater than it has ever been," the Washington Post reported. "The gulf is starkest in wealthy coastal areas such as Washington, D.C., New York, Connecticut, and California, as well as in areas with widespread poverty, such as Puerto Rico and Louisiana."
The U.S. income inequality reached its highest level compared to the past 50 years while the Gini index grew from 0.4804 in 2017 to 0.4845 last year, according to Census Bureau data. A higher figure of the Gini index indicates greater inequality. pic.twitter.com/rygazf1iTz
— BING XIAO (@binghsiao1) September 26, 2019
The Census data contradicts Trump's claim Wednesday that inequality is declining under his administration after he pushed tax cuts and other policies that disproportionately rewarded the wealthiest Americans.
"Wages are up, and inequality is down," Trump said during a press conference following the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. "Something that people don't like writing about."
Wages have increased slightly in recent years. But, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), "nominal wage growth has been far below target in the recovery."
Donna Ginther, an economist at the University of Kansas, echoed that point in response to the new Census data.
"We've had a period of sustained economic growth, and there are winners and losers. The winners tend to be at the top," Ginther told USA Today. "Even though we are at full employment, wages really haven’t gone up much in the recovery."