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Data: Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index; Chart: Axios Visuals

Inequality in the U.S. expanded during June, as measured by the Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index, which ticked up to 6.71 from 6.53 in May.

Why it matters: The latest data show that middle-income Americans have a significantly improving employment outlook and feel more secure in their jobs than groups of lower-income and higher-income adults.

  • "If you’re back to working at a restaurant or bar, your economic experiences and expectations are a lot better than they were last month. Everyone else is stuck in the mud," John Leer, Morning Consult chief economist, tells Axios.

How it works: The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index measures whether or not economic inequality is rising or declining — as opposed to providing a snapshot of the distribution of income or wealth. A higher reading means more inequality.

  • The index’s movement is based on comparing the sentiment of three income groups — $50,000/year or lower; $50,000-$100,000/year; and $100,000/year-plus.

The overall index is made of four components.

  • Pay income loss inequality was relatively stable in June versus May.
  • Consumer sentiment tracks differences in consumer confidence between the three income groups. Inequality here continually moved up between May 2020 and March 2021 but has been on a downward trend since then. June’s reading was nearly in line with May’s.
  • Job loss expectations had the biggest movement overall this month. The inequality here increased, following an uptick last month. Individuals in the high-income and low-income segments were much more concerned than the middle-income segment.
  • Financial vulnerability tracks the share of Americans who say they can’t cover basic expenses for a month with their savings. This measure actually fell slightly from May to June, after increasing during the previous monthly period.

The bottom line: The hand-off between stimulus checks unwinding and additional jobs coming online has gone the smoothest for the middle-income group. But the data implies that in the lower-income group, people are using up stimulus checks at a faster rate than they're finding employment, Leer says.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Sep 22, 2021 - Economy & Business

Building the future depends on building more housing

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

America's troubled urban housing policies are having negative effects that go far beyond high rents and real estate prices.

Why it matters: Decades-old barriers to building more housing in America's most productive cities make it harder to move and live there, which eats into wages, depresses population, saps economic growth, and even worsens climate change.

Updated 20 mins ago - Science

Blizzard likely to hit New England this weekend as "bomb cyclone" forms

Computer model projection of the precipitation and wind field from the weekend storm in the Northeast. (Earth.nullschool.net)

A powerful blizzard is likely to strike parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic beginning Friday and lasting into the weekend, with snow totals that are likely to be measured in feet.

The big picture: The joining of weather systems embedded in both the polar, or northern branch, of the jet stream and the southern branch is projected to create a bomb cyclone. Such storms undergo a process known as bombogenesis, with their minimum central air pressure readings plunging at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.

Schumer vows to confirm Breyer replacement "with all deliberate speed"

Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded Wednesday to reports that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire, commending his time on the bench and promising to confirm President Biden's nominated replacement "with all deliberate speed."

Why it matters: The opportunity to appoint a new Supreme Court justice will be one of the longest-lasting pieces of Biden's legacy and could energize Democrats ahead of the midterms.