Before 2020, there were growing signs of increasing economic prosperity for a wide variety of income groups in America. Whether or not this prosperity survives covid lockdowns and ever higher levels of government regulations remains to be seen. But in spite of increasingly reckless monetary and fiscal policy over the past decade, there were definite signs of ongoing progress.
For example, a landmark study published by the Pew Charitable Trust tracking income mobility since 1968 shows that 50 percent of Americans have greater wealth than their parents did at the same age. Furthermore, 72 percent of Americans whose parents were in the bottom fifth of the wealth ladder and 55 percent of those whose parents were in the middle quintile exceed their parents’ family wealth as adults.
Moreover, buried inside negative reports are the astounding gains made by poorer people relative to the wealthy. Research demonstrates that approximately half of taxpayers who began in the bottom quintile in 1996 had moved up to a higher income group by 2005. Even more interesting is the fact that the median incomes of people originally in the lower income groups accelerated more than those of people initially in the higher income groups. Contrary to popular assertions, it is poorer people who are acquiring great gains. Citing the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the Wall Street Journal in a recent editorial argues that poor people seem to be thriving in America:“[F]amilies at the top of the income and wealth distributions experienced very little … growth” in net worth between 2016 and 2019 “after experiencing large gains between 2013 and 2016,” while “families near the bottom of the income and wealth distributions generally continue to experience substantial gains.”