(Not) spreading the wealth

The income gap between the wealthy and the rest of the country has grown along with dramatic increases in CEO pay.

Growing share of income for the rich

Inequality in the U.S. has has grown steadily since the 1970s, following a flat period after World War II. In 2008, the wealthiest 10 percent earned almost the same amount of income as the rest of the country combined.

SHARE OF NATION’S INCOME  Including capital gains

The top 0.1 percent of the population (those making about $1.7 million or more) saw the sharpest increase in income share, taking home 2.6% of the nation’s earnings in 1975 and 10.4% in 2008.

INCOME LEVEL NUMBER OF PEOPLE AVERAGE INCOME OVERALL CHANGE 1970-2008
Top 0.1% 152,000 $5.6 million +385%
Top 0.1-0.5% 610,000 $878,139 +141%
Top 0.5-1% 762,000 $443,102 +90%
Top 1-5% 6.0 million $211,476 +59%
Top 5-10% 7.6 million $127,184 +38%
Bottom 90% 137.2 million $31,244 -1%

SOURCES: The World Top Incomes Database and reports by Jon Bakija, Williams College; Adam Cole, U.S. Department of Treasury; Bradley T. Heim, Indiana University; Carola Frydman, MIT Sloan School of Management and NBER; Raven E. Molloy, Federal Reserve Board of Governors; Thomas Piketty, Ehess, Paris; Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley and NBER. GRAPHIC: Alicia Parlapiano – The Washington Post. Published June 18, 2011.

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