Monday, January 23, 2012

The growing inequality

So what's the big freaking deal about the 1%? Just what exact share of the national income do the top 1% of wealthy Americans bring in?

The answer may surprise you.

The Paris School of Economics has compiled a database of the world's top incomes. You can pull up information from 26 nations around the world from the early 1900's up through 2008.

In the United States, the top 1% of income earners pulled in 15.4% of the nation's income in 2001. That share rose to 17.7% in 2008 (slightly down from 2007 as a result of the Great Recession). But that's just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

In that same period, the top 0.5% of income earners increased their share of the national income from 11.7% to 13.8% while the top 0.1% of earners saw their share go from 6.3% to 7.8%.

Now just take a second to let those numbers sink in. In 2008, almost 18 cents out of every dollar earned went to the wealthiest 1% of the U.S. population; almost 14 cents went to the top half of the top one percent and almost eight cents went to the top .01% of the population.

Income inequality in the US is now at about the same level as it was before World War I. And we call that progress.

The numbers are astounding and give us a portrait of the growing inequality in this country.

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