Posts Tagged ‘Income distribution history’

Prosperity for whom?

September 25, 2014

income distribution

This chart shows that during the Obama administration, the United States has had an economic expansion in which the vast majority of the population lost income.   This is the first time this has happened in more than 50 years.

There were sharp drops in average income growth during the Reagan (1982-1990) and Bush (2001-2007) years, but this is worse.

An economic expansion is a period of continuous growth in gross domestic product for at least two fiscal quarters in a row.  Americans are producing more.  But most aren’t getting the benefit of it.

I don’t think this is so much because of anything specific that the President and Congress have done as what they have not done.

I think the economic system is now structured to redistribute income upward unless something changes, and most of the present political establishment, both Democrat and Republican, is unwilling to change.


It is true that the top income earners lose a greater fraction of their incomes in recessions that the majority do.  But taking the ups and downs together, the economic elite are taking an ever-larger share.


Source: “The Most Remarkable Chart I’ve Seen in Some Time”: The Rich Gain More Ground in Every U.S. Expansion by Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism.

If you’re trying to reconcile the two charts, keep in mind that the top chart distinguishes between 10 and 90 percent of the population, and the bottom chart distinguishes between 1 and 99 percent of the population

When the top 10 percent gets 50 percent

December 31, 2010

The last time that the top 10 percent of the population got half the national income was right before the onset of the Great Depression.  It is interesting, too, that, during the previous century, the period the top 10 percent had the least share of the national income was the period of greatest prosperity.

Yes, I know, correlation is not causation.  No, I can’t prove cause-and-effect.  What the chart shows is, at minimum, that redistributing income upwards does not guarantee national prosperty.