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Income Inequality Grows in Arkansas

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Income Inequality 2By Terrah Baker

A new report published by the Economic Policy Institute finds that all 50 states have experienced widening income inequality in recent decades. This, following a report released by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) that highlighted the growing wealth disparity in Arkansas.

The EPI report focuses on new data that shows the top 1 percent in Arkansas raked in nearly one-third of all the state’s economic growth from 1979 to 2007. According to their report, income in Arkansas grew 35 percent between 1979 and 2007. In this case, however, it was the top 1 percent earners who saw a 121.6 percent growth in income, while the bottom 99 percent saw a 25.6 percent growth.

Unfortunately, the Great Recession did little to balance the economic differences. The report shows that the top 1 percent is recovering, with a 2.9 percent income growth from 2009 – 2011 while the bottom 99 percent saw an income drop of .5 percent. Due to this extended period of lopsided income growth, the share of income held by the top 1 percent in recent years has approached or surpassed historical highs. Looking at the colored graph, not since before the Great Depression were income levels so separated.

Income InequalitySo what does the average income look like for these top 1 percenters in Arkansas? On average in 2011, the top 1 percent made $698,681 while the bottom 99 percent made $32,932.

To help visualize this inequality, and to bring attention to what Arkansans can do to close the gap, AACF created and are spreading an infograph showing the difference between the wealthiest Arkansans and those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

“Our state’s current economic policies clearly benefit the very top of the income scale while doing very little for every other Arkansas family,” said executive director of AACF, Rich Huddleston. “Arkansas does better when everyone participates in the economy. Lawmakers need to enact policies that help working Arkansans — like an Earned Income Tax Credit — rather than passing massive tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.”

So much for wealth “trickling down,” as they say. The good news, said AACF, is that we can work to fix the problem. By jump-starting upward mobility by investing in early education, refueling the economy with an earned income tax credit, fixing the broken tax system so everyone pays their fair share, and making sure there are protections for Arkansans who lose their jobs or when times are tough. This ensures everyone can contribute to Arkansas’ economy, which in turn makes everyone rich, they said.

For the full report from the EPI, visit www.epi.org/multimedia/unequal-states-interactive. For the full graphic and more information from AACF, visit aradvocates.org.

 

7 Comments

Steve March 6, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Expanding the earned income tax credit is fine by me, even though I have no kids, as long as the defense budget is cut by like 70-80 billion. Investing in early education seems like a no-brainer, making college education more affordable would seem to help too.

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anna March 7, 2014 at 8:05 am

There are always going to be rich people, there are always going to be poor ones. Some people have a strong drive to be successful, some are happy to work 9 to 5 and just get by and then there are those who have no desire to do anything and expect everyone else to take them to raise. First off we need to make sure there are plenty of those 9 to 5 jobs available by passing business friendly policies.
Helping people become more self sufficient is a goal that we can all agree on. There would be no need to further decimate our defense system (big mistake) because there would be a lot less paid out in government handouts.
Educating people with the proper skill set for them individually instead of a one size fits all would go along way in acquiring that goal. We should also expect more out of people so that they learn to expect more from themselves. People can and should be educated on how to become a proud, productive member of society!
I personally know a person in that third category of people that was cluelessly bragging to me the other day about his free healthcare, food stamps and Obama phone. I told him that NOTHING is free, that some hard working person is paying for that! There is nothing wrong with this individual except that he is a drug addicted alcoholic that is being enabled by our government to stay in that miserable condition for the rest of his life!

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Steve March 8, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Funny how conservatives don’t mind welfare when it comes in the form of defense spending or when extremely large and profitable companies pay zero taxes and even get refunds, like GE and Verizon, but the person in poverty is a welfare cheat taking advantage of everybody. I’m sure there exists a minority, maybe a sizeable minority, of welfare recipients that are taking advantage of public help but I don’t think they cost as much as dozens or hundreds of advanced fighter aircraft with huge cost over runs.

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anna March 10, 2014 at 7:48 am

You’re wrong about that Steve. It pisses me off that those companies get out of paying taxes especially those like GE who took a government bailout (which also pisses me off)! Our tax system needs to be overhauled in a major way! I don’t know why there is such feet dragging on that issue.
Liberals are so happy to spend other people’s money yet when it comes to giving out of their own pocket well…
It’s well documented that conservatives are more generous in personal giving so don’t give me that “conservatives don’t care” crap.
There are people that truly need help from time to time but unless they are mentally or physically unable to support themselves welfare should be a temporary solution not a lifelong goal. Chronic welfare dependence, like a disease, is passed on to the children of these recipients as well. You are creating a sub culture of misery with this misguided attempt to “help” people!
As for the military, history shows that a strong defense is the best deterrent to war. You are against war right?
As with all government spending there is a lot of waste there too, another government agency that needs overhauling.

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