As the recession lingers and unemployment remains high, pundits are beginning to talk about “structural” changes in the economy that may make it nearly impossible for the United States to ever achieve full-employment. Those jobs that are being created are, disproportionately, less secure with lower salaries and fewer benefits. Globalization, changes in competitiveness and even government regulation are blamed.
But what is the role of income inequality? Even after the Great Recession, the gap between rich and poor is at historic levels. Slate is doing a terrific series on the origins and effects of income inequality. The series examines income inequality through the lens of race and gender, government policy, globalization, technology and politics. It busts many myths and is rich in data.
This issue is of particular interest in the District of Columbia. For many years, the income gap has been greater here than most of the rest of the nation. The recession has aggravated the difference between the haves and the have-nots. Historically wealthy neighborhoods have weathered the crisis and prospered while low-income communities have fallen behind. The difference in unemployment numbers between Wards 3 and 8 are chilling. The rate in Ward 8 is 28%, almost 10 times Ward 3 which stands at 3%. Too bad that this question has not been more of an issue in the local election campaigns.