News of the Month – October 2019

NewsOctober 31, 2019

In the midst of the nation’s longest economic expansion, the separation between rich and poor is at a five-decade high. Cities like San Francisco and New York, which have a concentration of skilled workers in high-wage industries like tech and finance, experience higher levels of inequality than cities such as Detroit or Indianapolis, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said.

While San Francisco is famous for its $200,000-a-year coding jobs, low-wage jobs that have grown almost as fast as the lucrative ones. A new city report that the city would need to plan for an additional 9,300 affordable housing units — three times the number of approved units in the city’s pipeline — to keep up with the rise of low-wage jobs expected over the next six years.

It is estimated that banks will replace 200,000 jobs with robots in the next decade. As much as a third of jobs at branches, bank offices and call centers will go. At least for now, banks will still rely on people to do sales, consult and offer financial advice. Already, banks are cutting down on their workforces: front-office employment at banks decreased for a fifth consecutive year in 2018.

While unemployment fell to a 50-year low in September, average hourly earnings are actually on the decline. The one-cent-an-hour slip to $28.09 was the first month-to-month drop since October 2017 and the 2.9% year-over-year rise in wages was the slowest increase since July 2018.

For the first time on record, the 400 wealthiest Americans last year paid a lower total tax rate — spanning federal, state and local taxes — than any other income group, according to newly released data. That’s a sharp change from the 1950s and 1960s, when the wealthy paid vastly higher tax rates than the middle class or poor.

Fewer Americans are living in poverty but, for the first time in years, more of them lack health insurance. This is due in part to recent efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act.