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Recommended Reading: March-April: Economic Inequality

Highline College's librarians recommend materials from the library collection on a wide variety of topics.

Economic Inequality, Democracy, and Labor Unions

This Recommended Reading guide offers a starting point for exploring the relationship between economic inequality, democracy, and labor unions. 

In this guide:

  • Selected Videos
  • Economic Inequality Facts
  • Labor Union Facts
  • Books from the Library (Also on Recommended Reading Shelf in Library Main Floor)

Selected Videos

At the River I Stand (1993)

A documentary film about the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike and the last few months of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The documentary explores the relationship between labor rights and civil rights and shows how King sought a form of economic democracy after successfully campaigning for the passage of civil rights and voting rights legislation.

AFL-CIO, a major labor organization, created the following video called "The Union Difference."

Economic Inequality Facts

What is the Gini coefficient? The Gini coefficient, or Gini index, is a statistical measure of economic inequality and wealth distribution among a population. A value of zero represents perfect economic equality, and a value of one represents perfect economic inequality. The Gini coefficient helps to visualize income inequality in a more digestible way. For example, according to the Gini coefficient, the District of Columbia and the state of New York have the greatest amount of income inequality in the U.S. with a score of 0.51, and Utah has the greatest income equality with a score of 0.43.

Household income distribution according to the Gini Index of income inequality in the United States from 1990 to 2021
Productivity Soars Wages Stagnate graph showing the value of labor productivity is much higher in recent years than the wages paid for that labor
Percentage of people without health insurance in the United States from 2010 to 2021, by ethnicity
Percentage of adults in the United States who have medical debt in 2019, by age
Percentage of adults in the United States who have medical debt in 2019, by amount owed
Share who currently have or had in the past five years health care debt in the United States as of March 2022, by ethnicity
Share of high school graduates enrolled in college in the United States from 2000 to 2019, by family income quartile
Average graduate debt levels in the United States from the academic year 2003/04 to 2018/19

Labor Union Facts

Graph showing 20% decline in labor unions since 1983
Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers in the United States from 2012 to 2022, by union affiliation
Share of civilian workers with access to paid leave benefits in the United States as of March 2022, by type of leave and union membership
Reasons members give for joining a labor union in the United States in 2022
graph showing approval rates of labor unions since 2001, showing a decline in approval in 2008 and then a steady rise to the present day
Americans favorability towards labor unions in the United States in 2022, by party identification

Books in the Library