Income inequality in the United States is a hot-button political issue in this mid-term election year. Advocates for substantial increases in the minimum wage, for instance, believe that imposing higher wages on employers will reduce poverty and lessen income inequality. The evidence just does not justify this claim. Workers who remain employed after the increase are made better off on the backs of those workers who face reduced hours or unemployment following government-mandated wage hikes.
The end of the year is always a time to take stock of what has transpired during the past year and what is likely to happen in the one about to begin. Let’s do so by considering several key economic measures.
Economic expansion limped along for another year. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adjusted for inflation, is the best measure of the economy’s total output. It increased this year, but not nearly as fast as many would hope, especially three years out form the end of the Great Recession.