NC Budget and Tax Center

Party like its 1929. Income inequality rivals era before the Great Depression

Before you dig out your flapper dresses and suspenders, odds are this is a party you can’t afford to attend. A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the level of income inequality in the United States and North Carolina has increased over the past several years to a point where we are now at or above the economic divide that helped to propel the world in the worst economic collapse in modern history.

“There has been vast and widespread growth in income inequality in every corner of the country. Overall, the growth in incomes of the bottom 99 percent has improved since our last report, in step with a strengthening economy, but the gap between the top 1 percent and everyone else still grew in the majority of states we examine here.”

In North Carolina, the average income for someone in the top one percent is 20.6 times larger than everyone else, a figure that has increased substantially during the Great Recession and is much higher than it was in the 1960s through early 1980s. The top one percent took home over 17 percent of all income in North Carolina in 2015, and the top 0.1 percent commanded 7.4 of all income. In 1974, when the level of income inequality in North Carolina was the lowest in modern history, the top one percent only consumed 7.8 percent of all North Carolina income.

We’re not doomed to repeat the Great Depression, but it is clear that state and federal policy in the last several years has failed to address the single most pressing economic challenge of our time. Instead of hoping that more tax cuts for wealthy people and profitable corporations will magically fix our problems, it’s time for leaders in Raleigh and Washington, D.C., to admit that we are reaching levels of inequality that threaten the social and economic fabric of our country.

Patrick McHugh is an Economic Analyst for the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center.

One Comment


  1. ANN

    July 20, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for proving that teachers are at the bottom.

Check Also

Report: Corporations are stiffing North Carolina on $373 million in state taxes

We all know that rich shareholders and global ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

President Trump’s national emergency declaration, long teased, is in effect. Let the lawsuits begin. [...]

The EPA today announced it has issued a Notice of Violation to Chemours for failing to comply, on mu [...]

If you told Cheri Beasley when she was a little girl that she would grow up to become North Carolina [...]

President Trump’s top disaster management official, Brock Long, resigned as head of the Federal Emer [...]

Editor's note: Kim Mackey is a social studies teacher with Wake County Public Schools. She rece [...]

The post Sending his love… appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

Surely, it would be folly to suggest that ICE’s hardened reputation as a home-wrecker was earned by [...]

There’s an old maxim in American politics, usually attributed to former U.S. Senator and Nixon admin [...]