Many Coloradans likely have at least a mental list of New Year’s resolutions, but some economists believe the state should have a resolution of its own.
According to Chris Stiffler, an economist with the Colorado Fiscal Institute, the path to a stronger financial future for the state starts with economic equality for its residents.
“The priority, a resolution for 2014, should be making an economy that works for everyone, which starts with having the workers with the jobs that pay a living wage and the skills that get them into the jobs that can boost their wages,” he declared.
According to the Institute, Colorado has a significant income gap, with 20 percent of the citizens holding 50 percent of the wealth, and the bottom 20 percent holding only 3 percent of it.
Stiffler said ways to accomplish greater equality include policies that focus on job creation and public education. The economist explained that when such a large portion of the population doesn’t have money to meet basic needs, the whole economy feels the effect.
“When so many people in the economy don’t have the money to spend, to drive the economy, everyone suffers, including businesses,” Stiffler said. “When two-fifths of the population don’t enough money to go out and buy the things that businesses are selling, then everyone loses.”
Colorado ranks 24th in the country when it comes to income inequality. Nationwide, according to the latest census figures, the average income for the wealthiest 5 percent of U.S. households has increased 17 percent in the last 20 years. This has come to pass while the average income for the middle 20 percent has risen by less than 5 percent.