Postmaster Patton of New York sent off the first airplane mail from New York to Chicago. The distance for the aviator to travel was 906 miles.
Postmaster Patton of New York sent off the first airplane mail from New York to Chicago. The distance for the aviator to travel was 906 miles.

100 YEARS AGO: First Aero Mail from NY to Chicago: Postmaster Patton of New York sent off the first airplane mail from New York to Chicago. The distance for the aviator to travel was 906 miles. 

50 YEARS AGO: The way you say it means as much as what you are saying, two student protesters were told Monday after being found guilty of disorderly conduct and fined $25 each. "You must win your argument by evolution, rather than revolution," Circuit Judge Leander J. Foley Jr. told  a 20- and 21-year old, who were part of a demonstration against the Dow Chemical Co. at UW-Milwaukee. "I feel that we couldn't have worked as efficiently through legal means," one defendant told the judge, "and I must concern myself with people being killed rather than with people who are prevented from seeing the Dow Chemical Co. I am prepared to pay the consequences of my action." He was charged in connection with blocking a door leading to a room where Dow officials were interviewing new employees. "Changing the attitude of a country is like training a horse," Foley said. "you train a horse by persistence, in a kind, firm way. You do not train a horse by putting it in a barn full of horseflies. You are horseflying the community and that is not going to motivate it to change its attitude."

25 YEARS AGO: First Lady Hillary Clinton spoke to a group on Health Care Reform. Clinton's plan would require all businesses to pay 80 percent of workers' premiums. No company would have to pay more than 7.9 percent of payroll for the health coverage, and there would be subsidies for small businesses that would allow some to pay as little as 3.5 percent of payroll. Clinton, put in charge of overseeing development of the administration plan, told the hardware store audience, "I never could figure out why insurance companies only wanted to insure people who had never been sick before. I think that eliminates everybody. So what we hope is that we will come up with a plan for our country that works for everybody."

FIVE YEARS AGO: The gap in employment rates between America's highest- and lowest-income families has stretched to its widest levels since officials began tracking the data a decade ago, according to an analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press. Rates of unemployment for the lowest-income families — those earning less than $20,000 — have topped 21 percent, nearly matching the rate for all workers during the 1930s Great Depression. U.S. households with income of more than $150,000 a year have an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent, a level traditionally defined as full employment. At the same time, middle-income workers are increasingly pushed into lower-wage jobs. Many of them in turn are displacing lower-skilled, low-income workers, who become unemployed or are forced to work fewer hours, the analysis shows.

"This was no 'equal opportunity' recession or an 'equal opportunity' recovery," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. "One part of America is in depression, while another part is in full employment." On Sunday, President Barack Obama stressed the need to address widening inequality, warning that proposed budget cuts will worsen the gap. "The folks in the middle and at the bottom haven't seen wage or income growth," Obama said on ABC's "This Week." While the link between income and joblessness may seem apparent, the data are the first to establish how this factor has contributed to the erosion of the middle class, a traditional strength of the U.S. economy.

Based on employment-to-population ratios, which are seen as a reliable gauge of the labor market, the employment disparity between rich and poor households remains at the highest levels in more than a decade, the period for which comparable data are available. Last year the average length of unemployment for U.S. workers reached 39.5 weeks, the highest level since World War II. The duration of unemployment has since edged lower to 36.5 weeks based on data from January to July, still relatively high historically.

Economists call this a "bumping down" or "crowding out" in the labor market, a domino effect that pushes out lower-income workers, pushes median income downward and contributes to income inequality. Because many mid-skill jobs are being lost to globalization and automation, recent U.S. growth in low-wage jobs has not come fast enough to absorb displaced workers at the bottom. Low-wage workers are now older and better educated than ever, with especially large jumps in those with at least some college-level training.

"The people at the bottom are going to be continually squeezed, and I don't see this ending anytime soon," said Harvard economist Richard Freeman. "If the economy were growing enough or unions were stronger, it would be possible for the less educated to do better and for the lower income to improve. But in our current world, where we are still adjusting to globalization, that is not very likely to happen."