We know that income inequality has been rising in America for decades. Now, there’s a tool to measure how that impacts Americans as workers, consumers, bill payers and savers.
Polling firm Morning Consult and news site Axios have launched the Inequality Index. It will track and compare how low-, middle- and higher-income households have fared in the pandemic recession and recovery so far, and keep monitoring the data into the future.
The new index crunches together survey data on consumer confidence, employment and financial vulnerability, showing, for instance, whether people can cover a month of basic expenses from savings alone.
The first report finds that inequality rose early in the pandemic, as massive job losses hit low- and middle-income workers.
But income inequality started to decline early this year, in large part because of the federal relief payments that went out in December and March, which, according to John Leer at Morning Consult, “intentionally targeted middle- and low-income adults, with consumers in those groups experiencing less financial vulnerability.”
Now, financial distress has accumulated through the pandemic, said Notre Dame economist Jim Sullivan. That was especially true for “those with a high-school degree or less in lower-paying jobs.”
And Leer noted that in May, inequality started rising again, as lower-income folks ran out of relief money and started worrying about losing eviction protections and unemployment benefits.
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