The U.S. economy has been growing for 123 months straight — a little over 10 years. It’s the longest economic growth in history, according to Natixis.
But that expansion has mostly only benefitted individuals and families that were already high earners at the beginning of the boom in 2009, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau found. In fact, income inequality in the U.S. is at its worst level in more than 50 years.
Five states have the widest gap in the country: California, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana and New York. Over the last five decades, nine states saw the sharpest increases in inequality in 2018: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia.
“When you have a system where inequality is rising — and where some groups are perpetually overrepresented at the bottom of the income and wealth distribution, even when they follow the standard prescription for realizing the American Dream — it’s a recipe for a politically and socially divided nation,” Cornell sociology professor Kim Weeden, director of the university’s Center for the Study of Inequality, told CBS News.
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But it’s not just about income. According to Weeden, wealth — which includes assets like a home or investments — is even more uneven in the U.S. than income inequality.
“Many of the major economic decisions that middle-class Americans make — whether it’s to start a new business or to purchase a home in a neighborhood with well-resourced schools for their children — are more closely tied to wealth than to income,” Weeden told CBS News.
CBS News reported that many critics have blamed President Donald Trump’s new tax code for the country. In the tax code, the breaks mostly went to the uber-wealthy. But this could change. Many of the Democratic 2020 presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have proposed taxing the very wealthy more.