Reports from the Economic Front

a blog by Marty Hart-Landsberg

An Economy For The 1%

The following table reveals much about the way our economic system operates.  It shows that the top 1% captured 68% of all the new income generated over the period 1993 to 2012.

Now that is a long time period, one that includes several recessions and expansions.

Looking just at our current expansion, from 2009 to 2012, we see that the top 1% captured 95% of all the real income growth.  The great majority of Americans might find this expansion disappointing, but not the top earners.  The current dominance of the top 1% is striking.  The top 1% only captured 45% of the income growth during the Clinton expansion and 68% during the Bush expansion.

piketty_saez

The following chart offers another perspective on how well top income earners are doing. In the words of the New York Times article that included the chart:

 the top 10% of earners took more than half of the country’s total income in 2012, the highest level recorded since the government began collecting the relevant data a century ago . . . The top 1% took more than one-fifth of the income earned by Americans, one of the highest levels on record since 1913 when the government instituted an income tax.

We have a big economy.  Slow growth isn’t such a big deal if you are in the top 1% and 22.5% of the total national income is yours and you can capture 95% of any increase.  As for the rest of us . . .

One question rarely raised by those reporting on income trends: What policies are responsible for these trends?

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