Income and wealth inequality among American families is both distressing and damaging. Furthermore, it is increasing. Today, the richest one percent of Americans own 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. The bottom 80 percent own just 11 percent. Recovery from the second most serious economic crisis in our nation’s history has allowed the incomes of the wealthiest 10 percent to climb dramatically while those of the majority, especially of families who struggle to make ends meet, have stagnated.
Better jobs and wages, early childhood education, stronger public education and mentoring, on-ramps to opportunity such as community college, fair taxation and other policies can help close the opportunity gap facing America’s kids and working families. Not all of these solutions are cheap, but the alternatives – higher health costs, lost productivity and massive expenditures in the justice system – are far more costly.