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Monday, March 05, 2012

Highly Unequal Income Gains During the Recovery

Miles Corak notes that most of the income gains during the first year of the recovery went to the top of the income distribution:

Over 90% of the income gains in the first year of the recovery went to the top 1%, by Miles Corak: Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley has updated his work with Thomas PIketty on the evolution of US Top Incomes to 2010.

He finds that:

“In 2010, average real income per family grew by 2.3% … but the gains were very uneven. Top 1% incomes grew by 11.6%, while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.2%. Hence, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery. Such an uneven recovery can help explain the recent public demonstrations against inequality.”

The 10 page update offers a clear picture of how income shares have varied over different business cycles, as well as the long-term trends since 1917. ...

The top 10% in the US take now take home about 47% of all income, but this is driven by the top 1% who account for 20%.

The difference between the business cycle of the 1990s and the 2000s is that the incomes of the bottom 99% grew by 20% between 1993 and 2000, but only by 6.8% between 2002 and 2007.

Saez suggests that this “may … help explain why the dramatic growth in top incomes during the Clinton administration did not generate much public outcry while there has been a great level of attention to top incomes in the press and in the public debate since 2005.”

See also Brad DeLong.

    Posted by on Monday, March 5, 2012 at 12:12 AM in Economics, Income Distribution | Permalink  Comments (16)

          


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