Planet Money
10:53 am
Mon March 5, 2012

NPR factoid table: How the 1 percent and the 99 percent are doing

Originally published on Mon March 5, 2012 10:38 am

Quick update on income inequality in America.

Emmanuel Saez, an economist who's one of the leading scholars on the subject, just published some new numbers.

Saez tracks income growth since 1993. He compares the top 1 percent of earners to everybody else.

Three things to note in this table:

1. Over the long term, the top 1 percent have seen much larger gains than everyone else.

2. During the recession, the incomes of the top 1 percent fell more sharply than the incomes of everyone else. This happened because the stock market crashed, and the highest earners get a big chunk of income from investments.

3. In 2009-2010, when the market came back, incomes of the top 1 percent bounced back, while incomes for everyone else remained flat.

Saez's conclusion:

This suggests that the Great Recession will only depress top income shares temporarily and will not undo any of the dramatic increase in top income shares that has taken place since the 1970s.

The numbers only go through 2010 because the data come from the IRS, which has not yet published data for 2011.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.