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Poverty and Inequality B efore and After the Great Recession. Sheldon Danziger H.J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor of Public Policy May 11, 2012 California State University, Fullerton Office of the President Symposium on Confronting Inequality. Overview.

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poverty and inequality b efore and after the great recession

Poverty and Inequality Before and After the Great Recession

Sheldon Danziger

H.J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor of Public Policy

May 11, 2012

California State University, Fullerton

Office of the President

Symposium on Confronting Inequality

overview
Overview
  • Historical Trends in Poverty and Income Inequality—from a “Rising Tide Lifts all Boats,” to a “Gilded Age of Rising Inequalities”
  • Lessons from the Great Recession and the 2009 Stimulus Act
  • Implications for Reducing Poverty and Inequality in the Next Decade
following the 1973 oil crisis
Following the 1973 Oil Crisis
  • Poverty Rises during Severe Recession of Early 1980s
  • Poverty Falls during Recovery, but not to 1973 level because less-educated workers no longer benefit from economic growth
  • Inequality Increases Rapidly
  • Effective Safety Net Only for Elderly
causes of rising inequality
Causes of Rising Inequality
  • Skill-biased technological change
  • Globalization
  • Decline in unionization
  • Erosion of the minimum wage
  • Declining progressivity of federal income tax
  • Explosion of Executive Pay and the size of the financial sector
why are poverty and inequality higher in the us than in europe
Why are poverty and inequality higher in the US than in Europe?
  • Americans are more likely to believe that “anyone who works hard can get ahead.”
  • Americans are less likely to endorse government’s responsibility to reduce income differences.
  • Americans prefer a flexible labor market with relatively little government regulation of firms
change in family income inflation adjusted at selected points in the distribution
Change in Family Income (inflation-adjusted) at Selected Points in the distribution

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2011). Table F-1. Income Limits for Each Fifth and Top 5 Percent of Families, from Historical Income Tables. Retrieved from: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/index.html

median earnings of workers with a hs degree or less ages 25 54
Median Earnings of Workers with a HS Degree or Less, Ages 25 - 54

Source: Current Population Survey (March Supplement)

Note: Percentage point change between 1973 and 2010 in parenthesis.

the great recession
The Great Recession
  • Recession was long—from December 2007 through June 2009
  • Recession was deep—about 6% of all jobs were lost
  • Labor Market Crisis
  • Financial Crisis
  • Housing Market Crisis
percent of workers with a hs degree or less employed in prior week ages 25 54
Percent of Workers with a HS Degree or Less Employed in Prior Week, Ages 25 - 54

Source: Current Population Survey (March Supplement)

Note: Percentage point change between 1973 and 2010 in parenthesis.

the american reinvestment and recovery act
The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act
  • Economically successful, but too small in hindsight
  • Kept Recession from being more severe and Poverty from being even higher
  • Poorly Explained by the Administration
  • Misreported by the media
  • Became a political failure that fed Deficit Mania
arra spending for poor unemployed
ARRA Spending for Poor & Unemployed
  • Increased Food Stamp Benefits
  • TANF Emergency Jobs Program
  • Expanded EITC and Per Child Tax Credits
  • Massive expansion of Unemployment Insurance
  • Pell Grant Expansion
  • Head Start/Early Head Start Expansions
slide16

Economists on the both the right and the left agree that the stimulus worked

The combination of increased federal purchases and benefits raised output and income…Stimulus worked in the sense that the recession would have been substantially worse without the stimulus…. Robert Hall. Stanford, Fall 2010, Daedalus

…fiscal policy sits idle, paralyzed by extreme partisanship, tarred by a successful public relations campaign against the 2009 stimulus bill and consumed by fears of large budget deficits. Our real deficit problem…lies in the future, not the present. Alan Blinder, Princeton, Oct. 25, 2010, Wall St. Journal

slow recovery from the great recession
Slow Recovery from the Great Recession
  • ARRA Kept Recession from being deeper and lasting longer
  • Safety net spending on Low-income Families Increased dramatically
  • Yet, 2011 Unemployment Rate of about 9% and 2010 Poverty Rate of 15.1%
official u s poverty rate 1959 2010
Official U.S. Poverty Rate, 1959 - 2010

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Retrieved from www.census.gov

current economic climate
Current Economic Climate
  • Unemployment is Falling but Remains High for Several Years
  • Wage Growth for Less-Educated Workers is Unlikely
  • Income & Wealth Inequalities at Highest Levels since the 1920s
  • States Are Cutting Social Programs and Public Sector Jobs
  • Deficit Mania Threatens Safety Net Programs
policy recommendations
Policy Recommendations
  • Make Permanent ARRA’s Food Stamp and Unemployment Insurance Changes
  • Establish a Subsidized Jobs Program for Long-term Unemployed
  • Expand EITC for Childless Low-wage Workers
  • Let Bush Tax Cuts Expire
responses to safety net s critics
Responses to Safety Net’s Critics
  • Labor market changes, not failure to take available jobs, are primary reason poverty and unemployment remain high
  • Safety net programs reduce poverty without large distortions in work and family choices
  • Modest tax increases reduce poverty and inequality without disrupting the market economy