America’s Recovery Is In Full Swing


If you’re rich. According to a new annual report, the top 10 percent of earners took in over half of the nation’s total income in 2012, while the top 1 percent collected one-fifth of all income:

The income share of the top 1 percent of earners in 2012 returned to the same level as before both the Great Recession and the Great Depression: just above 20 percent, jumping to about 22.5 percent in 2012 from 19.7 percent in 2011. That increase is probably in part due to one-time factors. Congress made a last-minute deal to avoid the expiration of all of the Bush-era tax cuts in January. That deal included a number of tax increases on wealthy Americans, including bumping up levies on investment income. Seeing the tax changes coming, many companies gave large dividends and investors cashed out. …

Allie Jones points out that this is a record gain for the upper income bracket, edging out the Roaring Twenties:

You can see that in 2012, top 10 percent income share creeps above 50 percent for the first time … Senior Brookings Institution fellow Justin Wolfers notes from the study that in the years since the crash (2009-2012), the average income of the top one percent has risen 31.4 percent, while the average income of the other 99 percent has risen only 0.4 percent.

Drum anticipates a counterpoint:

Now, I imagine that apologists for the rich are going to point out that their recent winnings still don’t make up for their losses during the Great Recession. And that’s true. … [S]ince the 2007 peak the rich have suffered an average income loss of 16.3 percent. The rest of us have done better: our incomes are down only 11.2 percent.

But this is meaningless. For starters, an 11.2 percent drop for someone making 15 bucks an hour is a helluva lot more painful than a 16.3 percent drop for a millionaire.