The jobs market is humming these days, but income inequality continues to grow. Torsten Slok, Chief International Economist with Deustche Bank Securities, sent the following chart to clients on Tuesday, drawn on the most recent work by inequality researchers Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman. Pikkety is the author of the much-discussed 2014 book, Capital in the 21st Century.
Why it matters: The yawning gap between U.S. haves and have nots is only growing more severe, and there are no signs that the trend will slow on its own. These are the numbers Bernie Sanders studied before wagering that the Democratic Party's path to electoral success is through aggressive economic populism.
The future of work will make this worse: Some economists argue that rising income inequality can be blamed on an unprecedented, rapid decline in the price of automation technology since the early 1980s. As machines become cheaper, the argument goes, business owners can simply replace workers with capital investments and reap more profits for themselves.
If this theory is correct, we should expect income inequality to rise ever-more quickly, as applications for artificial intelligence increase and the amount of computing power per dollar available rises exponentially.