95 Percent of Recovery Income Gains Have Gone to the Top 1 Percent

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 10 2013 3:31 PM

95 Percent of Recovery Income Gains Have Gone to the Top 1 Percent

Important inequality update from Emmanuel Saez:

Top 1% incomes grew by 31.4% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.4% from 2009 to 2012. Hence, the top 1% captured 95% of the income gains in the first three years of the recovery. From 2009 to 2010, top 1% grew fast and then stagnated from 2010 to 2011. Bottom 99% stagnated both from 2009 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2011. In 2012, top 1% incomes increased sharply by 19.6% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 1.0%. In sum, top 1% incomes are close to full recovery while bottom 99% incomes have hardly started to recover.

The same set of data shows that the recession years were egalitarian in the sense that the top 1 percent's income share fell, but the incomes of the 99 percent also fell—just not as fast as the incomes of the richest—so the catastrophic recession approach to reducing inequality doesn't look so good.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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