"The separation between rich and poor from 2017 and 2018 was greater than it has ever been."
President Donald Trump had a news conference at the InterContinental Barclay New York Hotel during the UN General Assembly, on September 25, 2019 in New York City, U.S. (Photo: Selcuk Acar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Federal data released Thursday showed U.S. income inequality in 2018 reached the highest level since the Census Bureau began measuring it five decades ago, a finding that comes less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump said "inequality is down."
The Census survey found that the nation's Gini Index—which measures inequality on a 0 to 1 scale, with 0 representing perfect equality—reached 0.485 in 2018.
In 1967, the U.S. Gini Index was 0.397.
"The separation between rich and poor from 2017 and 2018 was greater than it has ever been," the Washington Post reported. "The gulf is starkest in wealthy coastal areas such as Washington, D.C., New York, Connecticut, and California, as well as in areas with widespread poverty, such as Puerto Rico and Louisiana."
The Census data contradicts Trump's claim Wednesday that inequality is declining under his administration after he pushed tax cuts and other policies that disproportionately rewarded the wealthiest Americans.
"Wages are up, and inequality is down," Trump said during a press conference following the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. "Something that people don't like writing about."
Wages have increased slightly in recent years. But, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), "nominal wage growth has been far below target in the recovery."
Donna Ginther, an economist at the University of Kansas, echoed that point in response to the new Census data.
"We've had a period of sustained economic growth, and there are winners and losers. The winners tend to be at the top," Ginther told USA Today. "Even though we are at full employment, wages really haven’t gone up much in the recovery."