Friday, April 5, 2013

Another Look at Income Inequality

If you take all of the income growth in the U.S. since 1966 and make a bar graph of who got it, you'd see something like this.

If you look at the full-size graphic, the left bar is one inch tall and represents $59. This is how much the bottom 10 percent of income earners got, in real dollars. A little over a a dollar a year.

Leaving out the middle 80 percent allows us to focus on the contrast with the top 10 percent in the three other bars. The first tall bar is the entire top 10 percent. The middle tall bar is the top 1 percent. And the right-hand bar is the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent.

Note the white arrows above the three tall bars that indicate how much farther those bars would have to extend to show how much income those percentiles gained: 163 feet -- 884 feet -- and 4.9 miles.

The top 1 percent enjoyed 81 percent of all the increased income since 2009. Just over half of the gains went to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and 39 percent of the gains went to the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent.

Ponder that last fact for a moment -- the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent, those making at least $7.97 million in 2011, enjoyed 39 percent of all the income gains in America. In a nation of 158.4 million households, just 15,837 of them received 39 cents out of every dollar of increased income.
The write-up and graph were done by David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who now teaches at Syracuse University, based on analysis of IRS data by economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. I guess that means this doesn't include all the income sheltered in the Caymans.

Via Boing Boing

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