Income Inequality and how the middle class has been screwed

Income Inequality and how the middle class has been screwed

Most of us believe that our citizens are entitled to a living wage. In my mind that should include adequate nutrition, acceptable housing and affordable healthcare at a bear minimum. Overall the US is the wealthiest country in the world, by far, and yet fully 1/3 of our families could not afford the average cost of healthcare if they had to pay for it. The average cost per person (regardless of age) is approaching $11,000 per year. A young family, with both husband and wife working at minimum wage would not only not have enough to pay for healthcare, but they would have nothing for food, housing, utilities, etc.

It was recently reported the top 400 wealthiest persons have a worth in excess of fully ½ of the population at the bottom end. There are top executives in companies that are earning 500 times the average wage of rest of their workers below the executive level.

The United States has the 4th worst income inequality among all the industrialized nations. The only countries that are worse are Turkey, Mexico & Chile.

It’s hard to imagine the United States being so high on this list, but truthfully, the US hasn’t seen such large income disparity since 1928. And if you thought some of the other countries had it bad in regards to numbers, these numbers will no doubt serve to shock: From 2009 to 2012, the top 1% in the U.S. claimed 95% of gains from the economic recovery. And the rest of country, the other 99%? They only saw income growth of 0.4% while their richer counterparts saw their incomes rise by over 30%. While the economy is superficially showing recovery from the Global Financial Crisis, the reality is that the lower classes are not recovering nearly as fast as that top 1%.

The following chart is another view of the inequality. It is from 2003 and the current numbers are much worse. The adjusted average adjusted gross income for ½ of the tax payers is less than 14%. Obviously, the recent tax cut will only serve to increase the disparity as almost 2/3rd of the proceeds went to high income folks.. How can anyone think this is fair?

More on this topic in next week’s post

Income Group Number of Returns AGI ($ millions) Income taxes paid ($ millions) Group’s share of total AGI (%) Group’s share of income taxes (%) Average tax rate (%) avg income
All taxpayers 128,609,786 6,287,586 747,939 100% 100% 11.90%  $        48,889
Top 1% 1,286,098 1,054,567 256,340 16.70% 34.27% 24.31%   819,974
Top 5% 6,430,489 1,960,676 406,597 31.18% 54.36% 20.74%  $     304,903
Top 10% 12,860,979 2,663,470 492,452 42.36% 65.84% 18.49%  $     207,097
Top 25% 32,152,447 4,078,277 627,380 64.86% 83.88% 15.38%  $     126,842
Top 50% 64,304,893 5,407,851 722,027 86.01% 96.54% 13.35%  $        84,097
Bottom 50% 64,304,893 879,735 25,912 13.99% 3.46% 2.95%  $        13,681

More on this topic next week