The 1% Have Gained Back Their Recession Losses and Then Some

By:  Christopher Ingraham

The OECD just released the seventh edition of its Society at a Glance report, a data-driven barometer of the economic and social health of its 34 member countries, including the United States. The top-line finding for the United States is that the share of pre-tax income going to the top 1 percent of earners continues to be the highest among OECD countries, standing at 19.3 percent in 2012.

This share has more than doubled since 1980. The economic crisis of 2007-2008 took a small bite out of top income shares, but since then the 1 percent regained its losses and even increased its share of the pie relative to its prerecession high.

No matter how you slice the data, things are great at the top end of the income distribution. The top 10 percent of wage earners are closing in on 50 percent of the pie, while the top 0.1 percent are taking in nearly 10 percent of the income. For some historical context, consider that the 0.1 percent now claim a larger share of income than the 1 percent did in the early '80s, and the 1 percent are now earning nearly as much as the top 5 percent did during the same period. Bear in mind that these figures are exclusive of capital gains – if investment income were included, these shares would be even higher.

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