The issue took center stage for a time, grabbing headlines and, briefly at least, the attention of elected officials. But when the protest camps were dismantled and the media crews packed up, little had changed.
Today, the income divide remains as wide as it was when the protests began. The economy is officially rebounding from the depths of the 2008-2009 recession and employment rates continue to rise. However, wages remain stagnant for large numbers of Americans. Wealth inequality in the U.S. is now at near record highs, with about 90 percent of wealth owned by the top .1 percent of families, according to recent economic research.
A recent Pew Research report found that the middle class is losing ground: "After more than four decades of serving as the nation's economic majority, the U.S. middle class is now matched in size by those in the economic tiers above and below it."
Income Inequality and the 2016 Presidential Election
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has made income inequality a focal point of his 2016 campaign. He is championing a sweeping plan to help narrow the gap between rich and poor by raising taxes on the highest earners and corporations, breaking up the largest banks and channeling $1 trillion to infrastructure projects to create more working class jobs. The platform has gained Sanders an impressive level of traction, particularly among younger voters who feel increasingly uncertain about their economic future. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, still remains the frontrunner in the race, but has lost an unexpected number of state contests to Sanders, in part because she’s taken a less direct stance on the issue.
Republican candidate Donald Trump claims he'll address rising income disparities with a tax plan that calls for reducing taxes on those making less than $25,000 annually, and reducing CEO salaries---but his plan doesn't go into specifics about how he'll make this happen.
With the conversation around income inequality now near the forefront of this year's election, how does the issue impact your community?
ARTICLE: Income Inequality Emerges As Key Issue in 2016 Presidential Campaign (The Los Angeles Times)
Wage increases have slowed over the last 15 years, and many voters have noticed. Read more about how the issue took center stage in this year's election.
INTERACTIVE: Mapping Poverty in America (The New York Times)
Use this map to discover where poverty hits hardest in the U.S.
ARTICLE: Where The 2016 Presidential Candidates Stand On Income Inequality (Refinery29)
Learn more about where the former and remaining presidential candidates stand on income inequality.
ARTICLE: What Toothbrushes Tell Us About Inequality (TED Ideas)
What do everyday items tell us about wealth inequality? Check out this photography project that explores the topic from an artist's perspective.
Do Next takes the online conversation to the next level: these are suggestions for ways to go out into your community and investigate how the topic featured in this Do Now impacts people’s lives. Use digital storytelling tools and social media to share your story and take action. Make sure to tag your creations with #DoNowIncome.
- Illustrate solutions: Make an infographic with an online tool like Ease.ly or Piktochart to propose an idea for narrowing the income gap in the U.S. Share on Twitter or Instagram and tag your community leaders.
Go here for more tips for teaching with Do Now, using Twitter in the classroom, and digital tools tutorials.