The U.S. must change how it measures the well-being of its people - including gauging how much of a voice they feel they have in political outcomes - as part of a larger effort to reverse rising inequality across the economy.
That's the assessment of a new report released on Thursday by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. It includes recommendations ranging from redesigning social programs with an aim of providing greater stability to those facing economic hardships to extending to Black World War Two veterans and their descendants the benefits they were denied under the G.I. Bill decades ago.
There is growing concern about a contradiction in the U.S. economy: jobs are plentiful and economic growth is strong, especially compared with other advanced economies, but surveys show many Americans are sour about the outlook.
"We're close to full employment by traditional measures," said Matthew Slaughter, a member of the commission that wrote the report and the dean of Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business. "But a lot of American families in surveys say they don't think it's going that well."
Recent data underscores the problem. A report on consumer finances from the Federal Reserve last month found that American families on average saw large gains in income and wealth from 2019 to 2022, but the income gains were largest among the highest-earning families, and fastest among white families. New estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau also show the share of income going to the top 5% grew from 2019 to 2022, extending a trend dating from the 1980s.