A Recovery for Some But Not All

Chris Lilienthal |

As Mark Price noted yesterday, there has been a shocking rise in income inequality since 2009.

A new study from Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley finds that 95% of all U.S. income gains since the recession officially ended in 2009 have gone to the top 1%.

Will Bunch puts it in stark terms in a Philadelphia Daily News piece this morning (the cartoon above is from the Daily News’ incomparable Signe Wilkinson):

It turns out that the much-ballyhooed economic recovery of 2012 sailed right by the middle class in a golden-hulled mega-yacht, leaving most of us to fight off drowning from its massive, champagne-frothed wake.

Sharon Ward was quoted in the story, making the point that since the Great Recession ended, the nation has seen a recovery for some but not all:

“We’ve got an economy that serves strictly to benefit the wealthy and not the average working person,” said Sharon Ward, executive director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, who was aghast at the findings.

So what do we do about it? As the Keystone Research Center’s State of Working PA report recommends, Pennsylvania and the nation need a new direction led by policymakers who will commit themselves to broadly shared prosperity and advance policies that promote the American Dream.

This should include substantially raising the entry-level wages of fast food workers to $15 per hour. A dramatic increase in wages at the lower end of the scale could substantially increase middle-class purchasing power, accelerate economic growth in the short run and the long run, and boost upward mobility for the next generation.