Income shares growing at the top, falling everywhere else


After summing up the key findings of yesterday’s census report, Jared Bernstein homes in on income share trends. Commenting on the above chart, he says:

It’s a stark reminder that when it comes to the living standards of middle- and low-income families, overall economic growth is necessary but not sufficient.  For these families to get ahead, the economy must not only expand but that expansion must reach more households, particularly those for whom growth has been largely a spectator sport.

Bernstein reflects on the Republicans’ scuttling of the American Jobs Act:

[The] results carry two lessons.  First, they pose yet another reminder to policy makers that austerity measures in an economy that remains well below potential with a job market that’s still far too slack are exactly the wrong way to go.  Second, they show that the economic problems we face are, in fact, amenable to policy intervention.

I’m of course not suggesting that the anti-poverty measures noted above are solving the market failure of poverty, nor are the few pieces of the ACA that are in place solving the challenge of health coverage.  But they’re both helping, and if policy makers were listening to these data, they’d recognize that such measures point the way forward.