The majority of Americans think the gap between the county’s rich and everyone else is widening, but there are broad partisan differences about what should be done, according to a Jan. 23 survey by the Pew Research Center and USA Today.
Sixty-five percent of people believe the gap has increased during the last decade. This was the case for 61 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Independents and 68 percent of Democrats, the new survey shows.
In some regions of Colorado, economic inequities have been building for decades. One factor is the disappearance of good-paying manufacturing jobs that didn't require a college education. Manufacturing jobs in the state declined by nearly half between 1970 to 2010, according to the I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS investigation Losing Ground.
Several cities saw their large manufacturing enterprises and main economic generators either disappear or scale-down. Advancement on equality issues also began to stall, as happened when the Colorado Fuel & Iron plant greatly downsized in Pueblo.
“Progress made by minorities in the 1960s and 1970s faded in every measure (poverty rates, education, home ownership and median household income.) And the the story of CF&I and Pueblo is emblematic of one reason why: The state’s economic landscape shifted precipitously away from blue-collar manufacturing,” the Losing Ground report stated.
Coloradans also haven’t fully recovered from the Great Recession. Since December 2007 poverty rates have inched up each year while the median household income continually dipped, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
This is reflected by the number of people receiving some form of federal assistance. One government program that saw a significant increase in participants was the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.
An average of 508,200 residents qualified for SNAP dollars each month during 2013, a number that has nearly doubled since 2007, according to a January I-News analysis.
Despite the national increase of people applying for federal help, the Pew study found that Americans were split on how much of a role the government should play in addressing the gap between rich and poor.
Nearly all Democrats (93 percent) and most independents (83 percent) favored at least some government action, but only 64 percent of Republicans shared that view.
Opinions on taxing the wealthy also broke down along party lines, the survey found. Most Democrats (75 percent) favor raising taxes for the rich and expanding programs for the poor, while only 29 percent of Republicans concurred. Independents were about evenly split on the issue.