20 Facts About US Inequality That Everyone Should Know
Courtesy of the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, we bring you the “20 facts about US Inequality that Everyone Should Know”. For everything one has always wanted to know about wage inequality, CEO pay, homelessness, education wage premium, gender pay gaps, occupational sex segregation, racial gaps in education, racial discrimination, child poverty, residential segregation, health insurance, inter and intragenerational income mobility, bad jobs, discouraged workers, wealth inequality, labor market deregulation, job losses, immigrants and inequality and productivity and real income, this is the definitive resource.
1. Wage Inequality
Over the last 30 years, wage inequality in the United States has increased substantially, with the overall level of inequality now approaching the extreme level that prevailed prior to the Great Depression. This general characterization of the inequality trend oversimplifies, though, the actual pattern of change: The chart below shows that the trend at the top of the income distribution (the “upper tail”) is not exactly the same as the trend at the bottom of the distribution (the “lower tail”). “Lower-tail” inequality is measured here by taking the ratio of wages at the middle of the income distribution (i.e., the 50th percentile) to those near the bottom of the distribution (i.e., the 10th percentile); “upper-tail” inequality is measured by taking the ratio of wages near the top of the distribution (i.e., the 90th percentile) to those at the middle of the distribution (i.e., the 50th percentile of workers). We find that lower-tail inequality rose sharply in the 1980s and contracted somewhat thereafter, while upper-tail inequality has increased steadily since 1980.
Men’s wage inequality
Source: Economic Policy Institute. 2011. “Upper Tail” inequality growing steadily: Men’s wage inequality, 1973-2009. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute. May 11, 2011. <http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/charts/view/192>.
2. CEO pay
Recent decades have seen a clear increase in the difference between CEO compensation and that of the average worker in manufacturing or “production.” CEOs in 1965 made 24 times more than the average production worker, whereas in 2009 they made 185 times more. This chart shows how this ratio between the compensation of CEOs and production workers took off in the 1980s.
U.S. CEO pay in relation to the average production worker’s compensation
Source: Source: Economic Policy Institute. 2011. More compensation heading to the very top: Ratio of average CEO total direct compensation to average production worker compensation, 1965-2009. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute. May 16, 2011. <http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/charts/view/17>.