On some fronts, the economy is steadily recovering from the Great Recession. The unemployment rate is down, and the pace of monthly job growth is healing some of the damage inflicted by the downturn. But as EPI’s top charts of 2015 illustrate, the economy remains far from fully recovered—and is still failing ordinary Americans, who have endured decades of stagnant wages despite working more productively than ever.
But the charts also make clear that it doesn’t have to be this way. They show that policies that enhance low- and middle-income Americans’ economic leverage—such as keeping interest rates low, raising the minimum wage, making it easier for workers to bargain collectively, expanding access to overtime pay, and eliminating discriminatory practices that contribute to gender inequality—can go far toward creating an economy where prosperity is broadly shared.This is Number 10. Check out the rest of the data here.
Economic inequality leads to education inequalities. The large achievement gaps documented throughout children’s school trajectories don’t originate in school—rather, they are rooted in children’s socioeconomic status (SES). Indeed, performance gaps in reading and math are apparent when children enter kindergarten—and performance is closely associated with, and rises along with, SES. In fact, children in the highest socioeconomic fifth have reading and math scores that are significantly higher (by a full standard deviation) than those of their peers in the lowest SES fifth.
This illustrates the need to weaken the link between inequality and education, and to ensure that all children are prepared for kindergarten. This will require not only expanding access to high-quality early education programs, but also pursuing policies to reduce economic disparities.