Economic Justice refers to the availability of safe, reliable, high quality employment opportunities that provide individuals with living wages and salaries. It also includes equitable opportunities for asset ownership, including homes and businesses, and the equitable distribution of wealth, resources, and taxation policies. Economic justice promotes health by creating opportunities for economic security and enabling the purchase of health-promoting goods and services.
DISPARITIES AND STATISTICS
Race and Ethnicity: In 2016, the median black worker earned 75% of what the median white worker earned in an hour; the median black household earned 61% of the income the median white household earned in a year; and the value of net worth for the median black family was just 10% of the value for the median white family. While median hourly wages vary by a few dollars ($14.92 for black workers, $19.79 for white workers), the difference in median household income is tens of thousands of dollars ($39,490 for black households, $65,041 for white households), and the difference in median family net worth is hundreds of thousands of dollars ($17,600 for black families, $171,000 for white families).11
Socioeconomic Status: In recent years, the U.S. economy has become less conducive to socioeconomic mobility. A worker’s chances of moving up during the period of 1993-2008 have dropped from those during the period of 1981-1996. The chance that someone starting in the bottom 10% would move above the 40th percentile decreased by 16%. The chance that someone starting in the middle of the earnings distribution would reach one of the top two earnings deciles decreased by 20%. Yet people who started in the seventh decile are 12% more likely to end up in the fifth or sixth decile—a drop in earnings—than they used to be.12
Health: Families with higher incomes can more easily purchase healthy foods, have time to exercise regularly, and pay for health services and transportation. Conversely, the job insecurity, low wages, and lack of assets associated with less education can make individuals and families more vulnerable—which can lead to poor nutrition, unstable housing, and unmet medical needs.10