Top Group Takes Large Slice of Income Growth

Source: Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshots, September 8, 2010

Income growth over the last few decades has been enormously unbalanced, and this must be taken into account as the nation considers shifts in tax policy and develops a fiscal plan that strengthens the recovery and targets a sustainable deficit. According to the Congressional Budget Office, between 1979 and the start of the current recession in 2007, the pre-tax incomes of the upper 1% grew 214%, while the incomes of the middle-fifth and lowest-fifth grew, respectively, 25% and 4%. As the Chart shows, this extremely unbalanced growth implies that 38.7% of all of the income growth accrued to the upper 1% over the 1979-2007 period: a greater share than the 36.3% share received by the entire bottom 90% of the population.

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