Getting Granular On America’s Income Distribution

Back in the 1980s, the decade that saw researchers start detailing America’s increasing concentration of income and wealth, flacks for the emerging Reagan economic order disdainfully dismissed the significance of the alarming new data. The United States isn’t getting more unequal, the Reaganites pronounced, and the middle class isn’t shrinking. Those economists claiming otherwise, the conservative pushback went, weren’t taking government welfare programs into account. Add in safety-net benefits, conservatives continued, and the increased inequality would disappear. Over on Capitol Hill, researchers at the Congressional Budget Office would eventually put that conservative case to the test. They started producing periodic reports that took all sources of income into account, everything from wages and salaries to food stamps and unemployment benefits…
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