PORTLAND, OR -- A new report from the Oregon Center for Public Policy highlights the growing gap between Oregon’s wealthiest people and the middle class. Tyler Mac Innis studied newly available 2020 income tax data and found the top 0.1% earned, on average, $5.6 million in that first year of the pandemic. "The incomes of that group are the highest on record in the last four decades, and we’ve never seen a wider gap between that group of the top 1/10 of 1% and the Oregonians in the middle," Mac Innis tells KBND News.
While incomes for the richest soared to new heights, median earnings remained stagnant - right around $39,000. Mac Innis estimates it would take that median Oregonian 143 years to earn what that top 0.1% made in 2020, "There’s no way that the folks at the very top are working 143 times as hard as the Oregonian in the middle, or are 143 times as creative or innovative."
His research found that level of income inequality effects everyone, "Income inequality slows our economy’s growth overall. So, that has real impacts on innovation, investment and things like that. So, advancing public policies to really ensure that our state’s prosperity is shared more widely can actually have broader positive impacts on our state economy and society at large." Mac Innis says the current record level of inequality could affect everything from social mobility to physical health.
Graph courtesy Oregon Center for Public Policy