Summary of Opportunity for Growth

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This incisive study from public policy expert Joseph Parilla highlights how a relatively narrow slice of the US population reaps the rewards of the nation’s economic growth and prosperity, while the majority of the middle class gets left behind. Parilla argues that inaction at the federal level is leaving state and local governments responsible for promoting inclusive growth. getAbstract recommends this thought-provoking report to entrepreneurs, executives, and state, local, and community leaders.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How income inequality has grown in the United States,
  • Why policies that reduce income inequality can help state and local economies, and
  • What local authorities can do to promote initiatives bringing economic opportunities to more people.

About the Author

Joseph Parilla is a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.



Half of all American workers have seen no income growth, prior to taxes and transfers, since 1980. Only 50% of children born in 1980 earned more at the age of 30 than their parents did, compared to 90% of those born in 1940. A number of changes, including low foreign labor costs and productivity improvements from technology, are fueling the trend toward growing income inequality. Minorities, who make up more than 45% of Americans under the age of 18, have not acquired the skills necessary to become upwardly mobile. State and local governments have a vested interest in reducing income inequity. Policies that support economic inclusion also promote regional growth by expanding opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment, and decreasing the need for social safety nets. Despite this, race and class continue to strongly influence high school graduation rates, math proficiency and an individual’s likelihood of obtaining a college degree.

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