Gap Between Rich and Other Americans Widens, Respondents Agree

That the income gap between the county’s rich and everyone else is widening is a perception shared by the majority of Americans.

But what if anything can or should be done about it is subject to partisan interpretation.

Those are two of the results of a survey taken earlier this year by the Pew Research Center and USA Today.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said the income gap has widened during the last 10 years. This was the case for 61 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Independents and 68 percent of Democrats, the new survey shows.

Partisans Agree Inequality Has Grown, But Differ Sharply over Gov’t ActionApart from the survey, Colorado census data shows that economic inequities have been building here for decades. One factor is the disappearance of good-paying manufacturing jobs. 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  declined, 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 Colorado 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.

Wide Partisan Gap over How Best to Reduce PovertySixty-six percent of Democrats and most independents 49 percent of independents said government anti-poverty programs do more good than harm, while only 28 percent of Republicans held that view.

Opinions on raising taxes on the wealthy also broke down along party lines, the survey found. Seventy-five percent of Democrats favor higher taxes for the rich and expanding programs for the poor, while only 29 percent of Republicans agreed. Independents were about evenly split on the issue.


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