Economic Briefs

Global inequality widens dramatically

The planet’s billionaires got even richer last year, widening the wealth gap with the poorest 3.8 billion people who make up half the world’s population. Oxfam released its annual report on growing inequality, Public Good or Private Wealth, as the global elite gathered for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Globally, billionaires’ wealth grew by 12 per cent last year. That’s $3.3 billion every day. The wealth of Canadian billionaires grew by nearly $20 billion from March 2017 to March 2018. That could provide affordable universal child care to all Canadian families, says Oxfam.

The report shows how the widening wealth gap hits women and girls hardest. Tax cuts, that overwhelmingly benefit wealthy men, leave public services that lift women and girls out of poverty underfunded and vulnerable to cuts. Oxfam’s report pegs the combined yearly value of women’s unpaid care work around the world at $13.2 trillion – 43 times the annual sales of Apple.

US research shows growing racial wealth gap

New research from the Institute for Policy Studies shows the growing wealth gap in the US has a significant racial component. The report, Dreams Deferred, uses US central bank data to show how wealth shares have changed since 1983. The wealth of the median Black family has been cut in half over the past 30 years, while the wealth of the median white family has grown by one-third.

The report highlights the class and race biases in US public policy. Solutions to growing inequality will have to understand both dimensions. The institute’s recommendations include financial support for new parents, a tax on the top 0.1 per cent, and an audit of federal policies to understand their impact on growing racial wealth inequality.

Canada does not have the data to track wealth inequality for Black, racialized, or Indigenous households. CUPE and other unions have been at the forefront of calling for the federal government to collect this data, so we can understand and address this issue.

Racial and gender inequality persist for Ontario workers

Racialized workers are overrepresented in precarious jobs (low-wage, part-time, and/or temporary), have higher unemployment rates, and experience significant wage gaps, according to a new CCPA-Ontario report. Persistent Inequality: Ontario’s Colour-coded Labour Market, compares 2006 and 2016 census data to expose labour market inequality in Ontario.

The report finds racialized women have the highest unemployment rates of all groups and earn 58 cents for every dollar a white male earns. Poverty is also much more common for racialized households – 21 per cent of racialized households had after-tax income below Statistics Canada’s low-income measure, compared to 11.5 per cent of white households.

The report highlights varying patterns among different racialized groups, showing the importance of understanding the many ways that discrimination impacts diverse groups. CCPA’s recommendations include reforms that support all low wage workers, such as pay equity provisions that mandate equal pay and benefits for part-time, full-time, and temporary workers.


Source: CUPE National