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High Wage vs. Low Wage: Comparing Economic Recovery in America

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Economic Recession

The Briefing

  • The economic recession caused by COVID-19 has been especially devastating for low wage workers
  • While the recession is nearly over for high income earners, fewer than half the jobs lost this spring are back for those making under $20/hr

High Wage vs Low Wage: Different Economic Recoveries

While it’s not uncommon for low wage workers to bear the brunt of an economic recession, this year’s economic collapse has been exceptionally brutal for America’s lower income employees.

Employment rates for high wage workers have bounced back from their spring slump, but unfortunately, the recovery hasn’t been as pronounced for low income workers.

Less than half the jobs lost earlier this year have returned for those making under $20 per hour. To give you a broader perspective, here’s a look at the percent change of employment rates from February through to November 2020:

 
Change in Employment Rate (%)
DateHigh Wage Workers (>$60k)Low Wage Workers (<$27k)
Feb 1, 20200.4%0.2%
Mar 1, 20202.1%-0.7%
Apr 1, 2020-9.8%-23.8%
May 1, 2020-11.5%-37.0%
June 1, 2020-2.8%-26.6%
July 1, 2020-2.1%-20.4%
Aug 1, 2020-2.2%-19.2%
Sept 1, 2020-0.0%-19.8%
Oct 1, 20200.2%-19.2%
Nov 1, 20200.0%-20.0%

*Note: Percentage changes are compared to U.S. employment rates from January 2020.

As the table above shows, this recession has been tough for low wage workers. But why?

It’s Not You, It’s Your Industry

There are various elements at play, but one key factor driving this unequal recession is the type of work that’s been impacted by the global pandemic.

The sectors that have been most affected, such as accommodation and food services, are the industries that typically employ low wage workers. On the flip side, many high income workers are employed in industries that allow them to work from home.

Although several COVID-19 vaccines are now in sight, a return to “normal” can’t come soon enough for workers in hard-hit industries such as travel, tourism, and food services.

» Interested in learning more about COVID-19’s impact on the U.S. economy? Check out our full article: America’s $2 Trillion Economic Drop, by State and Sector

Where does this data come from?

Source: Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker.
Notes: This tracker was built using anonymized data from several private companies, such as credit card processors and payroll firms.

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Datastream

The U.S. Share of the Global Economy Over Time

As of 2019, the U.S. made up almost a quarter of the global economy. This chart shows how the U.S. Share of the global GDP has changed over time.

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us share of global gdp

The Briefing

  • The U.S. share of the global economy has nearly halved since 1960
  • America’s nominal GDP in current U.S. dollars is $21.4 trillion, or about 24% of the share of the global economy

The World’s Largest Economy

The U.S. is the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP, and its influence on the global economy is quite remarkable.

As of 2019, the U.S. made up almost a quarter of the global economy. But how has America’s share of the economic pie changed over time?

The U.S. Share of the Global Economy Over Time

While the U.S. economy has grown quickly over time, the global economy has grown quicker.

Since peaking at 40% in 1960, the U.S. share of the world economy has been cut almost in half, despite a rising national GDP and being the birthplace of some of the biggest companies on the planet.

YearGlobal GDPU.S. GDPU.S. Share of Global Economy
1960$1.37T$0.53T40%
1965$1.97T$0.74T38%
1970$2.96T$1.07T36%
1975$5.92T$1.69T28%
1980$11.23T$2.86T25%
1985$12.79T$4.34T34%
1990$22.63T$5.96T26%
1995$30.89T$7.64T25%
2000$33.62T$10.25T30%
2005$47.53T$13.04T28%
2010$66.13T$14.99T23%
2015$75.22T$18.23T24%
2019$87.80T$21.43T24%

The decline of America’s contribution to global GDP has been slow and uneven, with crests and troughs along the way.

Between 1965 and 1980, the country’s share fell by 13 percentage points, mainly due to stagflation of the 1970s. This decline was followed by Reaganomics and a period of strong recovery, which helped propel the U.S. share of the global economy back up to 34% by 1985.

The whipsawing would continue. Between 1985 and 1995, the U.S share fell by another 11 percentage points, only to bounce back to a local peak of 30% by the year 2000.

Downhill From Here?

Since the beginning of the 21st century, growth in many developing markets has continued at a rapid pace—and the U.S. share of the global economy has decreased as a result.

Until 2005, the U.S. still accounted for 28% of global GDP, but the Global Financial Crisis left a big dent, and its share fell to 23% by 2010. It has since remained relatively stable at 24%.

It’s important to put this decline into perspective. For instance, China’s share of the global economy grew from 4% in 1960 to 16.3% in 2019. Over that same time period, other countries like South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and India also saw their emergence on the economic world stage, as well.

What the Future Holds

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the course of the global economy, with most countries experiencing a recession in 2020. America’s economic position will depend on how quickly it can recover compared to the rest of the world.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The World Bank
Details: Data is in current U.S. dollars. Dollar figures for GDP are converted from domestic currencies using single year official exchange rates.

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America’s Most Responsible Companies in 2021

Which American companies are leading the way when it comes to corporate responsibility? Here’s a look at 2021’s most responsible companies.

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America's Most Responsible Corporations

The Briefing

  • Overall, HP was rated the most responsible American company in 2021
  • When it came to environmental initiatives, Waters took the top spot. The biotech company has committed to reducing its emissions by 35% from its 2016 levels
  • General Motors received the top score in social responsibility—it’s the only major U.S. company with both a female CEO and CFO
  • In the corporate governance category, Qualcomm placed first. The company runs a number of education programs to help engage women and minorities in STEM related-fields

America’s Most Responsible Companies in 2021

Consumers are becoming increasingly more thoughtful about the brands they support and buy from. In the U.S. and UK, 68% of online consumers would or might stop buying from a brand with weak corporate responsibility practices.

Because of this, companies need to ensure their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives are up to snuff in order to be competitive.

With this in mind, here’s a look at the top 20 most responsible companies in America, and what they’ve been doing to give back to their communities.

The Top 20 Most Responsible Companies

Newsweek and Statista used a four-step methodology to identify America’s most responsible companies. The process included a pre-screening, as well as in-depth CSR document review, and a consumer survey.

From there, companies were given a score out of 100 and ranked accordingly. With a score of 93.2, HP placed first as America’s most responsible company:

RankCompanyOverall Score (out of 100)
1HP93.2
2NVIDIA92.7
3Microsoft91.9
4Cisco Systems91.7
5Qualcomm91.5
6General Mills91.3
7Whirlpool91.3
8Illumina90.9
9Citigroup89.5
10Dell Technologies89.4
11Lam Research88.8
12General Motors88.7
13American Express88.5
14Nielsen88.4
15Mettler-Toledo International88.3
16MetLife88.2
17Merck & Co88.1
18International Flavors & Fragrances88.0
19Waters87.7
20Intel87.4

In its 2019 Sustainable Impact Report, HP outlined how it’s been working to drive sustainability in three key areas—the planet, people, and community. And the company has made some impressive progress. For instance, in 2019 it used over 1 million pounds of ocean-bound plastic in its products.

It’s not a huge surprise that HP has taken the top spot on the list. The company is known for its innovation and progressive practices. In 2020, it was recognized as one of the top 20 most innovative organizations of the year.

Corporate Responsibility in a COVID World

The world’s continual struggle with COVID-19 has put an even larger emphasis on CSR, and the importance of supporting the community at large.

It’s no longer just the right thing to do. As consumer demand for transparency and corporate responsibility escalates, CSR practices are transitioning from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have. And organizations need to get on board before they’re left behind.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Newsweek and Statista
Notes: For more information on methodology, click here

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