This Site Tells How Much You're Underpaid

Payscale photo illustration of workers from various professions in front of stack of moneybagsInequality makes a lot of people mad, but it's hard to know where to direct that anger. It's so complicated. Is it because of technology? Outsourcing? The decline of unions? A broken-down educational system? The rise of women? The decline of men? Immigrants? Illuminati? And how do you, as a single human being, fight a complex array of interrelated, systemic abstractions?

To solve this, a handful of economists, programmers and designers labored away for a year and half. The result is an interactive website, launched Monday by the Economic Policy Institute, called Inequality.is. Its goal: to teach people about inequality in America, and to make them so mad they might do something about it.

"A lot of people have been thinking about inequality, and what it means for them," explains Elise Gould, one of the economists at the liberal think tank who worked on the site, with help from the information visualization firm Periscopic, and a grant from the Ford Foundation. "We wanted to show what we know inequality means for people on a personal level."

More: Gaping Inequality: CEO Earns 1,795 Times The Average Worker

First, the site asks you how you'd like money in America to be distributed, and then guess how it actually is. (In a 2011 study in which respondents were asked to pick unlabeled pie charts representing different wealth distributions, the vast majority of people said that they wanted to live in a country with a wealth distribution like Sweden's.)

Then the site has you plug in some details about yourself, to show you how you fit on the American income spectrum. As a white female between the ages of 25 and 34, with a bachelor's degree, I'm told that my average salary is $44,985 a year. If I were male, I'd be making over $10,000 more, if I were black I'd be making $3,500 less, and if my wages had risen at the pace of worker productivity over the past few decades, my salary would be $24,000 higher.



OK, I'm a little mad.

Then the site goes some into context. Why and how did this happen? Outsized salaries in the financial sector, the shrinking minimum wage, and an increasingly less progressive tax system, to name a few, illustrated at Inequality.is by some pretty graphics -- and with some handy links if you're spurred to action.

Gould says that she really hopes the site does a good job of myth-busting, particularly when it comes to the idea of the American Dream. "A lot of people think inequality isn't that big of a deal, because we have equality of opportunity in this country. So it doesn't matter; everyone has an equal shot of being part of the 1 Percent," she explains. "That's just simply not true."

(Or as John Steinbeck once said, in America "the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.") As the graph below shows, the more unequal a country, the less chance you actually have of improving your lot:



Play around on Inequality.is yourself. Never has something so infuriating been so pretty! Except for maybe Gwyneth Paltrow, Apple Maps, and Stargazer Lilies (a species of flower that my colleague tells me smells unpleasantly like Novocain).

Why do the mega-rich work at all? See the slideshow below:

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Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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RouteUS66Busload

Worry not, this is not eternal thing, just temporary, these CEOs have trashy and humilation eteral life awaiting for each one of them. A well profession low paid teacher will have higher roles in eternal life whether in the damned or not.

July 02 2013 at 7:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SweetfeetBaby

Yes! Workers unite! The government must enforce equality for everyone!
Ask the Russians, Chinese, and Vietnamese how that worked out.

July 02 2013 at 6:02 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
I Made This

It's sad we have a society of blaming others for their lack of income.

July 02 2013 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to I Made This's comment
hsenpfeffer

It is sad when we have a society where honest working people like myself are forced to bailout multimillionaires who screwed up badly.

July 02 2013 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kryhavok1

SInce when was productivity directly related to wages? Especially in an age of hyper-technology when dollars earned through productivity are needed to pay off massive R&D debt. Bottom line is that increased productivity nearly always requires investment and that investment has to be funded through the dollars acquired through the subsequent increase in productivity. Having said that, it's a disgrace that the average CEO takes home $5M/yr when his/her average employee is taking home only $36K/yr. There definitely should be some downward movement in pay increases based on that statistic.

July 02 2013 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Donald Harwell

Funny...I don't know anyone who does not think they are over worked and underpaid. This is America, remember?

June 26 2013 at 7:50 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Donald Harwell's comment
dragondancer1814

Try being overworked and UNPAID! As a stay-at-home parent, I do the work of three men, and the closest I get to being paid is when someone leaves change in their pockets on laundry day! Worse, society STILL doesn't consider what I do to be a REAL job, so not only do I spend every waking minute of every day busting my butt only to have the family trash things up again, but I have to endure snark and insults from the rest of the world accusing me of loafing around gobbling junk food and watching TV all day, which couldn't be further from the truth!

July 02 2013 at 10:33 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to dragondancer1814's comment
Emperor Quintana

I suppose that I should start considering the move to Norway sometime in the future. I hope my professional career will be given a boost once I work on my Norwegian, in hopes of blending in and making a living as best I can. No more socialist drivel to deal with, no more communist whiners crying crocodile tears over their own "needs," and no more anarchists denouncing what is good and wholesome in the international community!
I may be prone to implementing a stern, oppressive framework, but I show full support towards merit, distinction, and technological advancements.

June 25 2013 at 11:57 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
redwingirish

If al davis had waited for the faiders to win two more superbowls he would\'ve been 960 years old!

June 25 2013 at 10:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mn4470

When "Big Business" bought the government the game changed. Now, the only idea any company has is to funnel all the money to either the CEOs, CFO's, and the upper strata of the company. The concept of "shared profits" is an anachronism and an anathema to virtually all employers, even Warren Buffett, without whom we would not even be having this discussion.
Greed is a virtue in the business world, and by buying the Congress they have gained control over all regulatory policy. Somehow, they all believe that by stepping down and crushing the middle class they are following the theories of capitalism. Bush 2 proclaimed himself "the Great Deregulator", saying that "what was good for business is good for the country". What a farce that turned out to be! Wall St stole all the wealth of the country, nobody went to jail for breaking the law( see above concerning bribing Congress), and all the good middle class were allowed to go overseas to countries that hate us and compete directly with us. The country is broke and the businesses have all the money.

If the United States is the "temple" democracy, but the alleged Supreme Court says that business are, in fact citizens, then its time to throw the money-lenders out of the temple.

June 25 2013 at 8:21 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to mn4470's comment
d1anaw

Don't forget he and Congress also handed them millions in free tax money with no strings attached. And many of them promptly planned extravagant get aways for their top executives on the taxpayers.

June 25 2013 at 9:35 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
SweetfeetBaby

So how do you explain Obamacare?

July 02 2013 at 6:02 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
BOB

I see even this article blames the anti union jurks for our poor income. UAW forever!!

June 25 2013 at 7:05 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to BOB's comment
demssuckx

find another job

June 25 2013 at 11:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kryhavok1

@Bob. I personally feel we need unions. They are good for all. But they have to change the way they have been doing business. If they are going to incessantly make demands on a corporation that will eventually lead to its inability to compete in the marketplace, that corporation will look for options. And find them in China, Indonesia, India, Mexico or a number of alternatives available to them. Management and labor have to be co-op'ed. Not put on collision courses.

July 02 2013 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kryhavok1's comment
hsenpfeffer

The problem is even after all of the giveaways and outsourcing of the last 30 years the corporations still whine that they are not making enough. Even with starvation wages and death on the job in Bangladesh enough giveaways have not been made to satisfy the corporations. Sorry that dog don't hunt. The problem is layers on layers of salsestrash and marketeering trash whose commissions and markup are so huge no productive company can compete. There is far more cost in sales and marketeering than in the cost of production for nearly everything. That has to be brought under control.

July 02 2013 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
K c

Figures don't lie but liars can figure.
This is just like the common MEDIA hype of 'inequality' between male and female pay! Total BS!
NO COMPANY WOULD EVER pay a female less than a male -FOR THE SAME WORK-!!
The -difference- is the -types- of jobs females work in compared to males. they COMMONLY work in -less paying jobs-!!! Ergo. . . . Women make LESS than men!

June 25 2013 at 4:50 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to K c's comment
Kit

And you know this because? I once worked at a silk screening company that paid me LESS than the male employees for doing the SAME exact job with the SAME exact job title!

June 25 2013 at 8:25 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
hot stuff

K you are so incorrect. i have been a painter for over 15 yrs and have been paid significantly less than most of my male coworkers. for the record, i am a better worker so there is no explanation for it other than obvious sexism.

June 26 2013 at 5:53 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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