U.S. Experiencing ‘Widening Inequality’

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Friday that in the last several decades the US has seen the most sustained rise in income inequality in a century.

This may have been a “big story” for The Associated Press, who released the article Friday morning, but to most Americans, Yellen was simply stating what we’ve known to be true for awhile.

The US has not only seen a growth in the gap between rich and poor, but it has recently seen a growing gap between the rich and the middle class.

During a visit to a dredging barge project in Philadelphia Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden commented on this trouble the middle class is having in recent years.

“The middle class is getting killed,” Biden said in an audio clip on Weekly Standard. “In the last ten years, average salary of the middle class in America according to Standards & Poor’s has gone up 14 cents.”

A study, called “an economy doing half its job,” released by Harvard Business School found that the widening gap between American’s richest and the middle and working classes is unsustainable and is unlikely to improve.

The study states that many middle class and working class US citizens are struggling, as were small businesses, while large American companies were showing signs of recovery and were maintaining their competitive edge on a global scale. This study, released Sept. 1 by HBS, is the latest in a series of surveys on their US Competitive Project.

“American workers are captives of the weakest aspects of the US business environment, our polarized politics and our struggling systems for educating young people and developing their workplace skills,”says Jan W Rivkin, co-chair of the HBS project.

With countless studies and surveys on the widening gap, there are only a few permanent solutions posed to fix it.

Biden encouraged infrastructure enhancements at this event, stating promoting manufacturing and jobs is “what we desperately need in this country now.” These jobs are the kind that workers can “raise a middle class family on.”

Yellen cited factors such as early childhood education, affordable higher education, business ownership and inheritances as “building blocks” that can be used by American’s to boost wealth and close the growing gap.

But maybe this is the issue. Our economic system is fueled by the desire to accumulate wealth. Citizens are constantly treated as consumers. We are encouraged to spend money to stimulate the economy but are then called materialistic. Education is important when applying for high-paying positions but the cost of higher education keeps increasing.

While it is good that people are commenting and drawing attention to the issue of the widening gaps, Americans need solutions. We need to start seeing some drastic changes.