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The past week has given us an all-too-rare confluence of data and personal stories that can help Americans understand what has happened to their living standards during the past several decades. Both the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey and Robert Reich’s new documentary, “Inequality for All”, were released, and their common theme is the defining issue of our time: inequality.
According to the Census Bureau, median household income, adjusted for inflation, fell 9% from its 2009 peak of $56,080, to $51,017 in 2012. Since the late 1970s, with the exception of the period of 1992-2000, incomes of families in the top 20% grew more quickly than those in the middle of the income distribution. At the same time, the incomes of those at the bottom of the distribution shrank. These are alarming developments, as they illustrate an increased economic stratification that is biased toward those who earn the most.
For the full editorial, see Lisa Cook, "Combating inequality in America a concern without equal", Detroit Free Press, October 7, 2013.
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