Stop Presses: Rich Get Richer

Middle class, not so much

Posted: October 27, 2011

WASHINGTON - The richest 1 percent of Americans have been getting far richer over the last three decades while the middle class and poor have seen their after-tax household income only crawl up in comparison, according to a government study.

After-tax income for the top 1 percent of U.S. households almost tripled, up 275 percent, from 1979 to 2007, the Congressional Budget Office found. For people in the middle of the economic scale, after-tax income grew by just 40 percent. Those at the bottom experienced an 18 percent increase.

The report, based on IRS and Census Bureau data, comes as the Occupy Wall Street movement protests corporate bailouts and the gap between the haves and have-nots. Demonstrators call themselves "the 99 percent."

"The distribution of after-tax income in the United States was substantially more unequal in 2007 than in 1979," CBO Director Doug Elmendorf said in a blog post. "The share of income accruing to higher-income households increased, whereas the share accruing to other households declined."

The top 1 percent made $165,000 or more in 1979; that jumped to $347,000 in 2007, the study said. The income for the top fifth started at $51,289 in 1979 and rose to $70,578 in 2007. On the other end of the spectrum, those in the 20th percentile went from $12,823 in 1979 to $14,851 in 2007.

The report also found:

* The top 20 percent of the population earned 53 percent of after-tax income in 2007, as opposed to 43 percent in 1979.

* The top 1 percent reaped a 17 percent share of all income, up from 8 percent in 1979.

* The bottom 20 percent reaped just 5 percent of after-tax income, versus 7 percent in 1979.

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