Friday, March 30, 2007

Fun Income Facts

Earlier this year, I listened to a bimbo talk show host tell his audience that worker's incomes in America had risen during the prior year by four percent.

What he didn't mention is that most of that raise went to the very top percentage of workers. He also failed to mention that in the U.S., folks like Bill Gates are counted as "workers" because they run their own companies.

This morning, The New York Times published an analysis of the Internal Revenue Service's income data for 2005 -- the most recent year for which there is complete data. From the Times article:

Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows.

The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression.

While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.

The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.

The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.
So, there you have it. Once again, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.


Anonymous said...

The diffeence between "workers" who own a business and those who labour for them is significant, but at the same time business owners can't be maligned as doing nothing. They are people who have put themselves in a mental and situational position of having the system work for them, as opposed to working for the system, but both rely on the system and have to contribute to keep it functional. It is work just to get and keep yourself in such a position, all the while being a part of larger systems. I know; I tried to "rise above" the workload system in such a manner, but I was unable to remove the "comfort barrier" that being a part of the system brings. It's not really a "barrier to success" unless you define success in terms of the money.

BrandonE said...

When I clicked on the link to comment, I was going to ask how on earth those at the top manage to spend their incredible income. Then I took a second to think about my own situation. While not even in the top 10%, I am admittedly not that far from it, and I am much nearer to it than millions of other people who make less than I do a year (in this country, not to mention the world). I imagine that there are people (many of whom probably live not too far from me) who could hardly imagine how I spend all of my income.

I was going to righteously call for those at the top to give more (like a good liberal), but instead I find myself pondering how I can give more. How can I live more humbly and help others live more comfortably?

Thanks for posting this Paul.

- BrandonE

scruffysmileyface said...

Check out all the liberal guilt and self-doubt. I wonder if 100K really puts someone in the top 10%, because although I'm not there, one look at the neighborhoods going up around mine will suggest that there are a lot more than 10% in that bracket.

Just a thought.

Paul said...

Hi Patty! Thank you for an interesting comment!

Hi Brandon! Methinks there are many ways to give something back to our communities -- and money might not even be the most valuable thing we can give. When we give of ourselves, even in a small way, aren't we doing something for others? I don't want to sound sappy, but the mere fact you drop by this blog to share your insights is a gift of yourself. So, when you judge how much you do for others, consider that you might do more than you know. Just a thought.

Hi Scruffysmileyface! Welcome to the blog! I doubt any data on income in the U.S. is wholely accurate, but the data presented in the article is probably some of the best that's available. That is, it might be more trustworthy for presenting the big picture than the impression we get simply from observing what's going on in our own neighborhood. Thanks for your post!