WASHINGTON (AP) — The richest 1% 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.
Average after-tax income for the top 1% of U.S. households almost quadrupled, up 275%, 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%. Those at the bottom experienced an 18% 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%.”
“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% made $165,000 or more in 1979; that jumped to $347,000 or more 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%ile went from $12,823 in 1979 to $14,851 in 2007.
The report also found:
—The top 20% of the population earned 53% of after-tax income in 2007, as opposed to 43% in 1979.