Back at the end of the nineteenth century the quest for better economic statistics was a bipartisan, bi-ideology, bi-analytic approach effort. Liberals and conservatives, reactionaries and social democrats, socialists and centrists in America all thought that good statistics would reveal that America matched their images of it and would show that their policies were good ones. We need to recover that: Austin Clemens: In an age of inequality, aggregate and mean economic statistics don't tell us enough: "I have argued that we should disaggregate the reporting of GDP growth so we can understand who prospers when the economy grows. But we don’t need to stop there. As income inequality increases and we increasingly see two Americas—one for rich and one for everyone else—it is more important than ever to see more granular breakdowns...

...Case in point.... The data show that African Americans face a very different economy than white Americans. And Equitable Growth grantee Xavier Jaravel found that even inflation varies significantly according to whether you are rich or poor, with low-income consumers experiencing inflation that is 0.65 percent higher than those with high income.... Inflation is used to index supplemental nutrition assistance benefits... and Jaravel’s results indicate that these adjustments may be too small.

The surveys that are used in... the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey... democratize economic analysis by providing raw survey data publicly. Unfortunately, survey rates are declining, and the surveys are ill-suited to certain aspects of our modern economy... the estimates of income inequality... are not particularly reliable because the survey does not contact high-income households....

The Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce will have to make broader use of administrative data from the Internal Revenue Service and elsewhere. But today’s report is an example of the kind of official statistical reporting about the economy that policymakers should aspire to produce more frequently. In an era of high income inequality, disaggregating U.S. economic statistics is the right way to understand who exactly the U.S. economy serves best and who it serves least...


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