The richest 1% have nearly doubled their share of U.S. wealth over the past five decades. Meanwhile, more than 43% of Americans are either poor or low income.

In fact, the gap between the rich and the poor in the U.S. is as extreme as it was in the “Roaring Twenties” despite the booming economy and historically low unemployment rates. Even middle-class Americans increasingly are struggling to keep afloat, according to nonprofit news organization Capital & Main.

Now the news group wants to make sure the issue of wealth inequality doesn’t get lost during what it calls “one of the most consequential elections in America’s history.”

One year from Election Day 2020, Capital & Main has launched a 12-month series called  “United States of Inequality: 2020 and the Great Divide”  that explores how the presidential candidates are proposing to tackle economic polarization, an “inconvenient truth” for some lawmakers. 

Produced in partnership with the Guardian US, Fast Company and The American Prospect, the series will feature weekly stories and multimedia features through the November 2020 election, Capital & Main says on its website. Capital & Main is a California-based online news group whose advisory board includes former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Jared Bernstein, who was chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden.

“People didn’t always feel so economically insecure, but in the last few decades the social contract has frayed, and the rules of the game have changed,” Reich narrates in the video for the series. “That’s why it’s so important for fact-based news outlets to shine a light on the defining issue of our time.”

  • Reich says lawmakers have created a tax system that increasingly favors the wealthy, while antitrust laws have failed to limit the power of large corporations. Meanwhile, the minimum wage hasn’t kept up with the cost of living and housing. 
  • More than one in four African-American families have a zero or negative net worth, compared to one in 10 white families. Warren Buffett, Jezz Bezos and Bill Gates alone own as much as the bottom 50% of all Americans.
  • Between 1979 and 2017, the top 0.1%’s earnings grew five times faster than the bottom 90%.
  • Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have pitched a “wealth tax” on the nation’s richest citizens.