Inequality Index: Watch for volatility
The gap between the way people in different income groups experienced the U.S. economy got smaller in July, compared to the Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index's June reading.
Why it matters: The economy may be at a turning point as expanded government fiscal support tails off — so signs of increasing inequality could start to pop up in the coming months, Morning Consult chief economist John Leer tells Axios.
How it works: The index compares the sentiment of three income groups — $50,000/year or lower; $50,000-$100,000/year; and $100,000/year-plus.
- It measures the distance between the higher-income and lower-income groups' sentiment from each other and from the middle — as opposed to providing a snapshot of the distribution of income or wealth. A higher reading means more inequality.
The overall index is made up of four components. The one that most drove July's overall reading was the "employment expectations" sentiment.
- Nudging the income groups closer together — i.e. driving inequality down — was increased fears of job loss among employed middle-income individuals, bringing them more in line with the high-income group's sentiment.
- About 9.6% of those in the middle-income group said they feared job loss in the coming four weeks, up from 6.7% a month ago. That more closely matched the high-income group, which was at around 10% in both June and July.