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Forum at Tuskegee University sheds light on state of America's economy

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TUSKEGEE, AL (WSFA) -

Economists say one of the most serious problems are country is facing is economic inequality- the widening gap between the rich and middle and lower classes.

The topic steered talks at Tuskegee University during a three-day economic forum that brought together nationally recognized speakers in economics, finance and business. 

Panel discussions covered America's economic outlook and inequalities. 

"One of the interesting things about the recent economic recovery from the worst recession we've had since the Great Depression is that 95% of the growth in income since the recovery began in 2009, has gone to the top 10% of income earners, the rich in the United States," said Dr. Bernard E. Anderson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and vice chair of the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees. 

The big gap in American's income is hindering economic growth. Narrowing it, experts say, is the key to improving areas like job creation, consumer spending, business investments and exports.

The issue was one Dr. Andrew Brimmer worked to tackle. Brimmer was the first African American to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank and a longtime member of the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees. The Andrew F. Brimmer College of Business and Information Science at Tuskegee University was named after him and the economic forum was dedicated to him.

Brimmer passed away in 2012 and his daughter says it was an honor to see the university paying tribute to his work as one of the nation's leading economists. 

"It's so exciting today to see scholars today from across the United States addressing the issues of economic empowerment and inequality that he cared so much about during his lifetime. It has been truly a remarkable day," Dr. Esther Brimmer said of her father and the forum. She works as a professor of international affairs at George Washington University. 

"The questions people are addressing relate to education and inequality and economic empowerment. These issues are central to our ability as Americans to realize the promise of our country. We  need to be able to include everybody in our society so that everyone has an economic stake and can realize their full potential," she added. 

Dr. Andrew Brimmer also mentored Dr. Bernard Anderson. Anderson says the widening income gap in our country is a very serious drag on economic growth.  

"Wages for middle income workers has been stagnant for the past decade but the income for those in the top 10% has been going up sharply," Anderson said. "Until we do something to narrow the gap in income inequality, we continue to bounce around the bottom with many Americans being very frustrated, very unhappy about their economic status."

Anderson felt the conference was another way to recognize Brimmer's years of service to the university and address the issues that were important to him.

Tuskegee University hopes to hold the Brimmer Forum every three years to continue his legacy and also inspire students to enter the field of economics.

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