New report reveals inequality in Connecticut is getting worse

It should come as no surprise that Thanksgiving is closer than around the corner. Whether you’re looking forward to the food, family, sports, or even shopping, I think we all know that at its core, Thanksgiving is a day characterized by reflection and gratitude.  To that end, here is some “food for thought” that I encourage you to read and share with others.

Last week, Connecticut Voices for Children and CAHS (Connecticut Association for Human Services) released a report titled Pulling Apart: Connecticut Income Inequality 1977 to Present. Using analysis of thirty years of census and tax return data, the report dynamically illustrates the grave reality in our state:

While Connecticut was once a place where middle and working classes were “closer to prosperity than almost anywhere in America,” today our state is “among the most unequal places in America, and the world.”

Did you know?

  • Thirty years ago, the gap between rich and poor in Connecticut was one of the smallest in the nation.
  • Now, Connecticut’s inequality ranks second-worst (only New York is worse).
  • The gap between “the rich and the rest” has grown faster in Connecticut than anywhere else.
  • Average incomes at the top have more than doubled, while incomes at the bottom have actually decreased.

What does this mean for children and families?

As inequality worsens, Connecticut is threatened with “declining schools, dangerous streets, impoverished communities, unhealthy children, and a diminished economy.”  These failing environments both create and reflect personal hardship. Despite hard work and sacrifice, families increasingly are unable to pay for immediate needs such as housing and child care, nor save for longer-term essentials like higher education.  The result? A generation, or more, of children whose chances at achievement and success are worse than their parents’.

What do we do now?

While CT Voices and CAHS recognize that policy change is not the only way to fix Connecticut’s massive inequality, they do suggest ways that policy change can improve outcomes for all those struggling financially in Connecticut.  The report suggests:

  • Raising and indexing minimum wage.
  • Shoring up the unemployment insurance system.
  • Making the state and local tax code more fair.
  • Strengthening programs that preserve and expand opportunity.

Now more than ever, uniting as community members and neighbors is crucial to the well-being of so many people who are struggling in Connecticut.   Though inequality in Connecticut is bad and getting worse, it need not be accepted as the “new normal.”  At All Our Kin, we know lives, and communities, transform when we support one another and seek innovative solutions to challenging problems.  It may barely be Thanksgiving, but it is not too early for a New Year’s resolution.  Let’s start talking.  And advocating.  Together, we can change the odds for children in our state.  Together, we will.

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