Jared Bernstein’s graph of the year: Rising income inequality is no surprise after seeing this

December 31, 2013

Time has its "Person of the Year." Amazon has its books of the year. Pretty Much Amazing has its mixtapes of the year. Buzzfeed has its insane-stories-from-Florida of the year. And Wonkblog, of course, has its graphs of the year. For 2013, we asked some of the year's most interesting, important and influential thinkers to name their favorite graph of the year — and why they chose it. Here's Jared Bernstein's.


The figure shows the percent of time that the unemployment rate was “too high,” meaning that it was above the rate economists (and, importantly, the Fed) associate with full employment.  In the postwar decades, job markets were slack less than a third of the time.  Since then, they’ve been slack about two-thirds of the time, even if you leave out the great recession.  While there’s a lot that goes into rising income inequality, it is not a coincidence that low, middle, and high incomes grew together in periods when tight labor markets dominated, and vice versa.

Jared Bernstein is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of 'Getting Back to Full Employment'.

See all the graphs of 2013 here, including entries from Bill GatesJonathan FranzenPatty MurrayTyler CowenBill McKibbenEmily OsterTa-Nehisi CoatesBrian GreeneChuck Schumer,  Chris Hayes, and Ron Wyden.

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Sarah Kliff | December 31, 2013