Here is a visual, produced by the Economic Policy Institute using Congressional Budget Office data, that helps to highlight the deep distributional inequities that characterize our economy. Our collective efforts create great wealth, but clearly only a very few get to enjoy most of it.
As the Chart below shows, 38.7 percent of all of the income growth over the period 1979-2007 went to the top 1 percent of income earners. This top group received more income over this period than did the entire bottom 90 percent of the population (whose share was only 36.3 percent).
Note: “Upper-middle fifth” (60-80 pecent) refers to those in the income scale who make more than 60 percent of earners but less than the top fifth. “Lower-middle fifth” refers to those who fall in the lower 20-40 percent range of the income scale.