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Income inequality in the United States has become a hot-button topic in recent years. When considered together with the high cost of living in California, which ranks among the most expensive states in the nation, income inequality can have a huge impact on peoples' lives and well-being.

What Is Income Inequality?

Income inequality is defined as the unequal distribution of wealth across different groups of people. In recent history, income inequality in the United States has been largely characterized by differential increases in income. The nation's wealthiest individuals have seen a marked jump in income, whereas those earning the least have seen much smaller (if any) growth in wages.

Who Suffers From Income Inequality?

Income disparities tend to affect those who earn the least. Often (though not always) that includes groups that are more likely to experience poverty, such as Black and Hispanic/Latino individuals and those who suffer from intergenerational poverty. Older adults are also among those who have seen a growth in income inequality of late. This is particularly the case for seniors who live on fixed income, which is notoriously slow to keep up with inflation and rising costs of living.

What Are the Consequences of Income Inequality?

Income inequality often has major consequences on the lives of those at the lower end of the wealth gap. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, "California's income distribution reflects high rates of poverty. Income is frequently not enough to meet basic needs." People in this position are at greater risk of housing instability and chronic health problems.

And it's not just the people who make less money that suffer. Income inequality and unemployment have also been linked to higher crime rates. Further, homelessness creates a drain on public health and support systems, a burden which other taxpayers are usually forced to shoulder.

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Contact us to learn more about our services, or consider making a donation to support our work. We can't wait to work with you!