The Rich Get Richer Through the Recovery
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: September 16th, 2013
The top 10 percent of earners took more than half of the countrys total income in 2012, the highest level recorded since the government began collecting the relevant data a century ago, according to an updated study by the prominent economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. The top 1 percent took more than one-fifth of the income earned by Americans, one of the highest levels on record since 1913. The figures underscore that even after the recession the country remains in a new Gilded Age, with income as concentrated as it was in the years that preceded the Depression of the 1930s, if not more so. High stock prices, rising home values and surging corporate profits have buoyed [the] incomes of the most affluent Americans, with the incomes of the rest still weighed down by high unemployment and stagnant wages for many blue- and white-collar workers. These results suggest the Great Recession has only depressed top income shares temporarily and will not undo any of the dramatic increase in top income shares that has taken place since the 1970s, Mr. Saez, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote. The income share of the top 1 percent of earners in 2012 [jumped] to about 22.5 percent in 2012 from 19.7 percent in 2011. The economy remains depressed for most wage-earning families. With sustained, relatively high rates of unemployment, businesses are under no pressure to raise their employees incomes because both workers and employers know that many people without jobs would be willing to work for less. The share of Americans working or looking for work is at its lowest in 35 years.