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Income Inequality Grew Faster Under Obama, According To One Measure

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BARACK OBAMA
US President Barack Obama speaks about Syria from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, on August 31, 2013. Obama said Saturday he will ask the US Congress to authorize military action against Syria, lifting the threat of immediate strikes on President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Obama said he had decided he would go ahead and launch military action on Syria, but he believed it was important for American democracy to win the support of lawmakers. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON | Getty

Despite President Obama’s view that growing income inequality is hurting the nation, it’s actually gotten worse during his tenure, at least according to one measure.

The difference between America’s median and average wages grew at a rate of 0.28 percent under President Bush, while it’s grown at a rate of 1.14 percent -- or about four times that -- under Obama, according to The New York Times. The median wage is the midpoint of all workers’ wages, so it only ticks up when everyone is earning more. While a small group of people earning higher pay can push the average wage up.

So, as the difference between the two rises, it means that those at the bottom of the income scale are making fewer gains compared to those at the top.

This data point is one of many that illustrates that in Obama’s America the rich are gaining while the rest of us are struggling to get by. The wealthy took home a greater share of the nation’s income during the years following the recession, under Obama, than between 2002 and 2007, under Bush, according to a 2012 analysis from Emmanuel Saez, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Still, it’s likely not all Obama’s fault. As a more recent paper from Saez and his Berkeley colleagues notes, the U.S. has the worst income inequality in the developed world in large part because lawmakers, financiers and the wealthy have colluded for years to keep much of the nation’s money in the hands of the rich.

For his part, it seems Obama at least recognizes the danger in letting the income gap grow. He told the NYT earlier this year that lawmakers should not accept a future in which income inequality continues to rise.

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