The Rise of the Super-Rich
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: November 11th, 2006
Income inequality used to be about rich versus poor, but now it's increasingly a matter of the ultra rich and everyone else. New figures show that from 2003 to 2004, the latest year for which there is data, the richest Americans pulled far ahead of everyone else. In the space of that one year, real average income for the top 1 percent of households...grew by nearly 17 percent. For the remaining 99 percent, the average gain was less than 3 percent, and that probably makes things look better than they really are, since other data...indicate that the average is bolstered by large gains among the top 20 percent of households. The top 1 percent of households enjoyed 36 percent of all income gains in 2004, on top of an already stunning 30 percent in 2003. A recent study done for the Business Roundtable(pdf)...shows that median executive pay at 350 large public companies was $6.8 million in 2005. According to the Wall Street Journal, that's 179 times the pay of the average American worker. The study's calculation of executive pay is widely criticized as an understatement. In 2003, the latest year for which figures are available, the top 1 percent of households owned 57.5 percent of corporate wealth. The top 10 percent of households had 46 percent of the nation's income. The top 1 percent of households had 19.5 percent. [For] the bottom 60 percent, average income grew by [a total of] less than 20 percent from 1979 to 2004, with virtually all of those gains occurring from the mid- to late 1990's. Before and since, real incomes for that group have basically flatlined.
Note: For a related New York Times article on how the current administration is planning to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, click here.