State of the Union: Tackling income inequality

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on January 28, 2014 at the US Capitol in Washington.

Last night in his State of the Union address, President Obama touched on several economic themes, including jobs, the middle class, health care, and something he has been talking quite a bit about recently -- income inequality. Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation, a progressive think tank, spoke to Marketplace's Lizzie O'Leary about the president's goals and the wide income disparity between the rich and the poor in the United States.

On raising the minimum wage, Danziger said this:

“The minimum wage is lower than it was in the late 1960s, if one adjusts for inflation. I also like that he referred to an employer in Minnesota who raised the wages of his workers. And it would be great if a large corporation like Wal-Mart voluntarily raised their minimum wage.”

On whether the government has a role in correcting income inequality:

“We actually have pretty good evidence that if government does not do much, inequality increases. The best example of that is since the recession ended, the stock market is back to close to all-time highs, yet wages have not budged for the median worker. So we have strong evidence that  economic growth is not trickling down to the poor or even the middle class.” 

To hear the interview, click the audio player above.

 

 

About the author

Lizzie O'Leary is the new host of Marketplace Weekend.

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