During the week of February 5, National Public Radio (NPR) offered a series on income inequality titled Haves and Have-nots: Income Inequality in America. They describe it this way:

This week, NPR features a seven-part series that explores the human side of income inequality in the United States. We’ll have stories about workers who are severed from the middle class when their manufacturing jobs disappear. We’ll be speaking with people like Larry Podeswik, a wiry 52-year-old ex-Marine who lost the best-paying job of his life when the Carrier Air Conditioning company shut down its factory in Syracuse, N.Y.

We’ll meet people who have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations, because their particular skills meshed perfectly with the Internet age. We’ll explore the role of luck and timing — and marriage. And we’ll look at what happens when middle- and working-class students attend an elite college with much-more-affluent peers.

The overview story linked above includes some nice graphs to get a sense of income dispersion. The series includes seven parts, each of which it is possible to listen to online. They list the stories as follows:

  • Series Overview: The Haves and Have-Nots — Over the past generation, the financial gulf between the rich and everyone else has widened. Uri Berliner examines the phenomenon.
  • Part 1: The View from the Top — At the top of our income distribution, life is sweet… sweet enough to send private jet sales up sharply. John Ydstie reports on why inequality is growing again and discusses some of the ideas for restraining it.
  • Part 2: Ivy Tower, Blue Collar — What’s it like to be a not-so-rich kid at a private, elite school like Amherst? Jim Zarroli finds out.
  • Part 3: Big Hoops Dreams, Tiny Paychecks — The average NBA player makes more than $5 million a year. One notch below, athletes in the NBA’s development league earn as little as $15,000 a year. Tom Goldman reports.
  • Part 4: Fears Overblown? — Some economists aren’t all that concerned about a growing income gap. They believe a society that allows the market to reward education and skills is moving in the right direction, and worry about the unintended consequences of government intervention. Adam Davidson reports.
  • Part 5: Married with Money — Part of what’s driving income inequality: Men and women in high-paying fields tend to pair off and form high-income families. Chris Arnold reports.
  • Part 6: Lucky Strikes — During the golden stock-option years, some employees struck it rich… but others came too late or just didn’t time it right to share the wealth. Wendy Kaufman reports.
  • Part 7: When the Good Jobs Vanish — What happens to factory workers when their well-paid manufacturing jobs move overseas? Jim Zarroli reports.

Hat tip to my friend Paul for making me aware of the link.

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