Lewis Diuguid

Income inequality hurting U.S. economic recovery, AP survey of economists shows

Income inequality in the U.S. is a gap that keeps growing, stalling the full recovery of the U.S. economy.

That was the conclusion of more than three dozen economists that The Associated Press surveyed, and it is difficult to get any group of economists to agree on anything. No doubt the disparity will affect Christmas shopping because most Americans won’t have the discretionary cash for gifts.

Wealthier people have the extra change. But they don’t spend like the mega-millions of middle- and lower-income people beneath them do.

The stock market has risen to record levels this year, but 80 percent of the wealth in the stock market is owned by the richest 10 percent in this country, adding to their holdings. Recent census data indicate that the average income for the wealthiest 5 percent of U.S. households adjusted for inflation has gone up 17 percent in the last 20 years.

For the middle 20 percent of households, the wealth has only increased 5 percent. Raising the minimum wage has been proposed.

But lawmakers and income equality advocates also should push for a more progressive income tax structure, which had existed in the post-World War II era.