Income inequality vastly grew in Ohio and other states between 1979 and 2011, but Ohio actually fared better than most other states, according to a Feb. 19 report from the Economic Policy Institute and the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN).
Ohio’s top 1 percent saw their inflation-adjusted income grow by roughly 70 percent between 1979 and 2011, according to Policy Matters Ohio’s analysis. During the same time period, the bottom 99 percent actually saw their incomes drop by nearly 8 percent.
Still, Ohio’s income gap isn’t as bad as states like New York and Connecticut, where the top 1 percent make roughly 40 times as much as the bottom 99 percent.
In Ohio, the top 1 percent’s average income in 2011 was 18.1 times greater than the 99 percent’s average income, below the U.S. average of 24.4.
The findings show a trend reversal in incomes in Ohio and the rest of the nation. Between the late 1920s and mid-1970s, the income gap generally narrowed. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the wealthiest began outpacing the rest of the country.
Economists on both sides of the political spectrum blame various issues for rising income inequality, including the rise of globalization, poorly structured trade treaties, the loss of manufacturing jobs, the inflation-adjusted fall of the minimum wage, the weak social safety net, declining membership in labor unions and the stagnant economy.
Given the findings, some advocates say it’s time to adopt a new nationwide approach to the economy.
“It’s clear that policies were set to favor the 1 percent and those policies can, and should, be changed,” EARN Director Doug Hall said in a statement. “In order to have widespread income growth, bold policies need to be enacted to increase the minimum wage, create low levels of unemployment, and strengthen the rights of workers to organize.”