Saez: Income Inequality Up, But Bottom 99% Doing Fairly Well


Good news from Emmanuel Saez:

The latest IRS data show that incomes for the bottom 99 percent of families grew by 3.9 percent over 2014 levels, the best annual growth rate since 1998….

But you knew there had to be a but, right?

….but incomes for those families in the top 1 percent of earners grew even faster, by 7.7 percent, over the same period.

So income inequality continues to increase. Still, over the past two years, the non-super-rich have finally made some gains after seeing their incomes crater during the Great Recession. That’s good news as far as it goes. The remaining question is whether this increase is mostly confined to the top 10-20 percent, or if workers in the bottom half of the income distribution also made gains. The chart below, which shows that hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers have increased about 3.2 percent over the past two years, suggests that the working class has done about as well as the overall bottom 99 percent. The gains of the past two years appear to be fairly widely spread.