Roman J. Salamon

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The Income Gap: How Unequal Pay Is Hurting Our Communities

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The income gap has been a part of mainstream media for years, but how it impacts communities is often overlooked. On the surface, it means the wealthiest people continue to growth their wealth, and those in the lower and middle classes face shrinking ability to live on their incomes. However, understanding how this topic hurts communities can help change income inequality Rockford residents have come to see.

Income Inequality Begets Income Inequality.

The basic problem with income inequality is its self-fulfilling and self-propagating nature. Income inequality leads to greater income inequality with time as the rich derive most of their income from investments. So, reducing income gap only grows more difficult when left unchecked.  

It Reduces Educational Opportunities.

Income inequality also diminishes educational opportunity in communities. As people from the lower and middle class seek to expand their horizons, the income gap creates a need for additional funding for education. When funds are unavailable, the educational facilities and opportunities deteriorate.

It Results in a Negative Sense of Community Morale.

The income gap further harms communities by impacting their core sense of morale. When wages are not livable, community members must rely on assistance programs to help. Unfortunately, society can be cruel, shamming those in need, which breeds a negative sense of morale in the community.

Income Inequality Impacts Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Income inequality has a direct impact on GDP as well. However, different opinions have been expressed on what is and is not a fair means of interpreting data. In other words, income inequality means GDP may remain stale or grow at a slower-than-anticipated pace, but the incomes of the lower classes remain stagnant.

Income Inequality Reduces Motivation.

Think about two sides of income inequality. Those in lower classes work more for less, yet the rich work less for more. With a proverbial mountain to climb to increase income among the lower and middle classes, the motivation to work more may decrease. Unfortunately, this only further contributes to the problem.

It Increases Mental Stress and Anguish.

Income inequality also affects the mental state of those in the lower classes. When incomes stay low, the rising cost of living, ranging from increased gas costs to the rising cost of food, anguish and stress over bills grows. With time, the added stress can lead to physical health problems or mental breakdowns, which spread throughout communities like a wildfire.

It May Result in Greater Homelessness Rates.

As income fails to keep up with the rate of inflation, paying monthly bills will lead to greater homelessness rates among communities. Few events carry the weight and stress associated with homelessness, and when it befalls a person, the feeling of being unable to rise out of the ashes is almost unbearable. Yet, it goes back to the first point and impact of income inequality.

There is no easy way to put it; income inequality and the income gap destroy communities and lead to physical and mental health problems. However, United Way of Rock River Valley is working to help stop income inequality Rockford communities cannot evade on their own. From financial empowerment to job skills training, the income gap will decrease when you act today. Find a way to volunteer online, or contact United Way of Rock River Valley at 1 (800) 968-5400 to find out more about income programs and community empowerment. 

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Guest Friday, 28 July 2017