Up, up, and away (the 1% and .1% in the USA)
from David Ruccio
Just as we expected: the incomes of those at the very top have rebounded in dramatic fashion.
According to calculations by the Economic Policy Institute (pdf),
the top 1.0 percent of earners’ share of total earnings was relatively stable from 1947 into the 1970s but then nearly doubled, from 7.3 percent in 1979 to 14.1 percent in 2007. During the recession, the top 1.0 percent’s earnings share fell to 12.2 percent in 2009 but recovered to 13.1 percent by 2011. The growth of the earnings share of those in the top 0.1 percent, the upper tenth of the top 1.0 percent, was even sharper over the 1979–2007 period, more than tripling from 1.6 percent to 5.7 percent. The top 0.1 percent’s earnings share fell to 4.3 percent in 2009 and slightly recovered to 4.7 percent in 2011.
Meanwhile, annual wages of the bottom 90 percent of earners eroded by 0.6 percent in the downturn—and by a further 1.2 percent in the 2009–2011 recovery.
And all we have to do is connect the dots: annual wages at the bottom continue to decline, which (in the context of growth in overall net incomes) means there’s more surplus for those at the top to capture. Which they do (both directly and as capital gains). Which means the incomes of those at the top have returned (after a brief hiatus) to going up, up, and away from the rest of us.