Paul Bradshaw pushed two carts filled with groceries at the food bank in McArthur, Ohio. Photo Credit: Alison Wright/Getty Images

Society USA9. July 2022

Income Inequality Improves Here (for the First Time in Years!)

The working class in the United States is in its strongest financial position in a generation — and the wealth of the bottom 50% has nearly doubled in the last two years alone. 

This radical change in the collective net worth of the US working class is partly due to trillions of dollars spent on Covid-19 relief plans as well as a stronger labor market, particularly for lower-income workers. Further, the amount of job postings requiring “minimal” qualifications has increased. 

“For the first time since the late 1990s, low-wage workers are gaining ground compared to other workers,” explains Columbia University economist professor Suresh Naidu. “If we’re able to have tight labor markets for another year or so, you can imagine a lot of low-wage workers in previously dead-end jobs are going to be able to break into something new— saving, relocating, going to school, and opening up a path into the middle class.” 

The average lower-class household saw its net worth rise to roughly $57,346 by the end of 2021, up from only $30,378 at the end of 2019. The recent trends leave the lowest 50% feeling more hopeful than ever before that putting money away as a safety net is a possibility, and ultimately that America’s inequality problem is better than it has been in a generation.  


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