Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Inequality decreased for most of 2021 but picked up in May, index shows

Data: Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has rocked the U.S.economy in myriad ways. One of the most important has been the impact on economic inequality, which has been spotlighted by top economists, including Fed chair Jerome Powell.

Why it matters: It is a growing subject of discussion among everyday Americans and carries weight among economists, namely because persistent or increasing inequality can cast doubt on the fairness of America’s economic system and undermine the sustainability of economic growth.


What it is: Unlike the well-known Gini coefficient, the Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index does not measure the distribution of income or wealth, it measures the movement of inequality — how much it has increased or decreased based on four important economic variables detailed below.

  • The index measures economic outcomes across income groups on a monthly basis to show whether the U.S. is becoming more or less economically equal.

What it says: Having tracked data through Morning Consult's daily surveys of 260,000 Americans per month, the index shows that inequality decreased for most of 2021, but picked up in May.

What it means: "We had unprecedented stimulus in December and then again in March and over that period of time we’ve seen the Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index decrease ... but we’re now at a point in May where the sugar high from the second and third stimulus has worn off," Morning Consult chief economist John Leer tells me in an interview.

State of play: Following the passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in March inflation worries have grown and Congressional Republicans have pushed back against big-spending stimulus measures, even President Biden's infrastructure proposals, which are paid for by fees and increased taxes on the wealthy.

  • That makes another stimulus package unlikely and could mean that in September when enhanced unemployment benefits and eviction and foreclosure moratoriums expire many of the nation's low-income residents will be on their own and facing major liabilities.

Be smart: "The way policymakers had hoped this would play out is we would have the December stimulus and then the American Rescue Plan that would jump-start consumer spending and that would result in an increase in employment, which would be sustained as the economy reopened over the summer," Leer says.

  • "Given the disappointing jobs report that we saw last month and decreases in retail spending in April as well it’s unclear that we’re in this self-sustaining economic recovery mode right now."

The bottom line: The index is showing that without another lifeline lower-income Americans could be in for a difficult 2021, which would challenge the lofty growth expectations economists and asset managers have laid out for this year.

  • "We’re at another turning point where we had these four months of decreasing inequality and now we can see how the economy responds in the absence of such intense fiscal intervention," Leer adds.

Reports: Trump DOJ subpoenaed Apple for records of WH counsel Don McGahn

Apple told former Trump administration White House counsel Don McGahn last month that the Department of Justice subpoenaed information about accounts of his in 2018, the New York Times first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: Although it's unclear why the DOJ took the action, such a move against a senior lawyer representing the presidency is highly unusual.

Keep reading... Show less

Pelosi demands Barr and Sessions testify on data subpoenas she says go "beyond Richard Nixon"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNN Sunday that former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions should testify before Congress on reports that the Trump-era Department of Justice seized Democrats' and journalists' data records.

Driving the news: DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Friday an internal investigation into the matter, and Pelosi expressed disbelief to CNN's Dana Brash at assertions that neither Barr nor Sessions knew of probes into lawmakers.

Keep reading... Show less

Shipping giant CEO says business have to avoid global politics

The CEO of the world's largest container-shipping company cautions that international firms have to be careful of taking political stances.

  • What they're saying: "We cannot run a global business if we start to have views on politics in every single country that we are in," Maersk CEO Søren Skou tells "Axios on HBO."
Keep reading... Show less

Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Clark defends overture to Democrats

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Suzanne Clark told me on "Axios on HBO" that the business group was right to endorse vulnerable House Democrats last year, despite the flak that resulted from Republicans.

  • Clark, who took over the top job in March, said those House Democrats "had really helped push business's number one priority, which was the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, over the finish line."
  • "All of the Republicans that we work with on tax, on regulation — those people are really, really important to us," she added: "So we have to be willing to have a different coalition on every issue."
Keep reading... Show less

Nuclear watchdog: “Essential” to have deal with Iran

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency tells "Axios on HBO" that it's "essential" to have a nuclear deal with Iran because otherwise "we are flying blind."

Driving the news: Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi sat down with "Axios on HBO" at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, ahead of Iran's June 18 presidential election and a June 24 extension on negotiations seeking to restore curtailed surveillance of Iranian nuclear sites and salvage the 2015 deal.

Keep reading... Show less

U.N. ambassador Thomas-Greenfield sees tough Putin summit

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told me on "Axios on HBO" that President Biden will be candid, frank — and tough — during this week's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • "The president will make clear to the Russians that they cannot harbor cyber terrorists and criminals in their country and not be held accountable for it," she added. "And they need to take the responsibility for dealing with this issue."
Keep reading... Show less

Dems’ go-it-alone approach faces big hurdles as left’s frustrations spill over

If a bipartisan group of lawmakers fails to strike a deal on the infrastructure proposal it's negotiating with the White House, ramming through a package using the partisan reconciliation process isn't a guaranteed solution.

Why it matters: Getting 51 Democratic votes would be a long, uphill battle. And moderates within the party are balking at the cost of President Biden's spending — even as progressives openly lament that the "transformational" change they seek is slipping out of reach.

Keep reading... Show less

America's U.N. ambassador: "I will always push for women to be part of negotiation teams"

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has argued over her 39-year diplomatic career that educating and empowering women and girls is an investment in peace and security for their nations.

  • "I will always push for women to be part of negotiation teams," she told me in the State Department Treaty Room, during an interview for "Axios on HBO."
  • "I notice ... when they're not in the room. ... Sometimes I'm the only one," she added with a laugh. "And I will call it out."
Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories