Workers & Economic Inequality

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2 groups have the most trouble with student debt

While the majority of college students struggle with paying off student loans at some point or another, research has found that there are two specific groups that particularly struggle more than others. Those groups are: older students and those from low-income areas. TCF fellow Mark Thoma explains the New York Fed's findings.

When the economy is doing poorly and jobs hard to come by, it's in our collective interest for the young to go to college instead of hopelessly searching for a position, and for older workers who have lost jobs to return to school and upgrade their skills. But people in these groups, especially those from low-income areas, aren't getting the support they need -- and they're drowning in a sea of debt.

Read Thoma's full article here.

Tags: student debt, low-income students, graduation rates, college tuition

Why Hasn’t the Economy Fully Recovered? Debt, Debt, Debt

Statistically speaking, the U.S. economy is due for its next recession (with the model that a recession occurs every 6 years). While the economy is in fact looking healthy now, the government has perhaps not taken the smartest steps to prevent this approaching recession. TCF's Dan Alpert suggests that in addition to “an oversupply of labor, productive capacity, and capital,” the U.S. largely ignored working-class and middle-class workers regain financial stability.

Sixty percent of Americans saw their real incomes fall, but they didn’t complain because the “shower” of easy money “allowed them to make up for lost income and maintain living standards — at least for a while.”

Read the full article.

Tags: unemployment, tax policy, recession, national debt, middle-class

Festival of Books: Matt Taibbi, Steve Lopez on Socio-Economic Clout

The problem of stark inequality is still a big issue in the U.S. TCF fellow Edward Kleinbard offered his take on why this inequality persists as it has, and describes it in his book, We Are Better Than This. His suggestion for improving the inequality issue? A better tax system that reflects investments in our future.

USC law professor Edward D. Kleinbard, meanwhile, described the mountains of “depressing data” he used to write "We Are Better Than That" (Oxford), a book that seeks to reframe the conversation about taxing into one about spending, about how we need a smarter government to restore our social safety net, and how all of this serves to end what he calls a “shameful inequality.”

Read the Kleinbard's commentary in the LA Times.

Tags: we are better than this, tax rates, tax policy, inequality gap

The Real “Middle Class” is Even Worse Off

TCF fellow Mark Thoma lays out the real definition of the "Middle Class" and says that between the period of 1989 and 2013, they are the only class whose median income and wealth decreased (and at a surprising 13 percent and 22 percent, respectively).

The bottom line according to Emmons and Noeth is that "the demographically defined middle class reveals that families that are neither rich nor poor may be under more downward economic and financial pressure than common but simplistic rank-based measures of income or wealth would suggest.

Read Thoma's full article here.

Tags: wealth inequality, middle class, median household income, economic theory

The EITC—Our Biggest Program for the Working Poor

April 10, 2015 COMMENTARY BY: Mike Cassidy TOPICS: Workers & Economic Inequality, Economic Policy, Poverty

Part 1 of 3 in TCF’s Tax-Week Series on the EITC.


The Double Standard of Making the Poor Prove They’re Worthy of Government Benefits

There are two types of government benefits that are disbursed to citizens, but the recipients of each of these are treated differently depending on their income level. Welfare recipients are often observed with more scrutiny, as if they are expected to not use their benefits properly. The other group of recipients, that is those receiving Pell grants or mortgage loans, are paid less attention to because these types of benefits are part of what TCF fellow Suzanne Mettler calls the "submerged state."

Many, many Americans who do receive these other kinds of government benefits — farm subsidies, student loans, mortgage tax breaks — don't recognize that, like the poor, they get something from government, too. That's because government gives money directly to poor people, but it gives benefits to the rest of us in ways that allow us to tell ourselves that we get nothing from government at all.

Find out more about the "submerged state" from this Washington Post article.

Tags: welfare applicants, subsidies, submerged state, poor families, government services


Workers & Economic Inequality

Workers & Economic Inequality

In recent decades, and especially since 2000, the richest Americans have enjoyed soaring income and wealth while the rest of the population's living standards have stagnated. The Century Foundation was one of the first institutions to raise serious concerns about these trends and propose ideas for improving economic conditions for all Americans- not just the fortunate few.

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