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'US economic, racial inequalities leapt pre-corona'

(File photo)

Ramin Mazaheri
Press TV, Chicago

The most-important survey of household finances in the United States portrays a society with massive economic and racial inequalities. What’s worse, the report does not include 2020, which has seen an inequality-entrenching "K-shaped" economy emerge as a result of the nation’s chaotic corona lockdown.

Every three years the United States Federal Reserve issues their Survey of Consumer Finances, which is considered the best window into the financial shape of American households. 

The report detailed enormous and rising inequality between economic classes as well as shocking racial disparities. This was perhaps best illustrated by the finding that the richest one percent hold 40 percent of all wealth, while the poorest 50 percent hold just one percent of the nation’s wealth.

In 1989 the richest one percent held just 30 percent of all wealth. But an important disclaimer needs to be made about this report: it only covered 2016 to 2019. This year’s national economic catastrophe as a result of the coronavirus lockdown has undoubtedly worsened the economic situation for a majority of all Americans and increased overall economic inequality.

Judging from the report it would appear that Whites and non-Whites live in totally different economic worlds; the median income for White families is $190,000, which is a whopping eight times more than the median income for Blacks, and over five times the median income of Latino households. 

In 2020 African-Americans and Latinos have endured job losses or pay cuts at rates double that of Whites, meaning racial disparities will significantly widen as well. The report also showed how inequality increased during the era of Barack Obama and the Great Recession. Only the richest 10 percent had more wealth in 2019 than in 2007. 

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