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Examining economic inequality in the U.S.

There is no doubt that these are turbulent times, but we can only hope that significant positive changes are born from this era, too. In fact, the United States – for all its wealth and privilege – is a nation vastly divided economically. 

I’ve even argued before how the middle class is evaporating right before our eyes, and the economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic has only turbocharged that distribution of wealth.

Sadly, the poverty rates for women, children, and especially racial ethnic minorities is exponentially higher than that of the entire U.S. population, or white families.

So, today, I wanted to share 10 facts or stats that illuminate the economic inequality in the U.S.:

  1. From 1970 to 2018, median middle-class income increased from $58,100 to $86,000, which is 49% But at that same time, upper-income households saw their median income grow 64%, from $126,100 to $207,400.
  2. But lower income households saw only a 43% increase in median income, from $20,000 in 1970 to $28,700 in 2018.
  3. Since 1981, incomes for the top 5% wealthiest families in the U.S. grew by 3.2% annually. But for families in the lowest 20% bracket of incomes, they saw a LOSS of .1% annually over those years.
  4. 61% of Americans now say that there is too much economic inequality in the United States today – a clear majority. Only 13% of Americans say there is too little economic inequality, for comparison sake.
  5. According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States holds the largest margin of economic inequality of any G7 (industrialized western) nation.
  6. There’s also denying the huge racial disparities in economic abundance in the U.S. By 2018 (date of the last census), the median income for white households was $84,600, but it was only 51,600 for African American households.
  7. Between 1989 and 2016, the wealth gap between the richest (top 5%) families and the lowest 20% income bracket more than DOUBLED. In fact, the median net worth of the top 5% families is now 248x more than that of the middle-class tier of Americans.
  8. Of the 38.1 million Americans living in poverty, 58% are women. Of all women in poverty, minority women lag far behind when it comes to income and wealth. About 1 in 4 minority women of Latina, black, or American Indian ethnicity now live in poverty.
  9. And African American women make up 12.8% of all women in the United States but represent 22.3% of those living in poverty.
  10. Sadly, it’s often children who suffer the most from economic disparities in poverty, as 45% of children in minority ethnic families are living in poverty.