The Wall Street Journalhas the goods:
The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. That…surpasses the previous high of 20.8% set in 2000…
The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income, down from 13.4% in 2004 and a bit less than their 13% share in 2000.
So half of the population gets about an eighth of the income. Fair? Not so much.
Now, some might argue that relative incomes don’t really matter: as long as the middle class is doing well enough, who cares if the top 1 percent is earning more?
But even if you bought that line of reasoning (and I don’t, since sharp inequalities are linked to a host of social ills) the numbers still look gloomy. According to the latest figures, median income –the annual earnings at the very middle of the income ladder—fell by 2 percent between 2000 and 2005, after adjusting for inflation. So it’s not just that the super-wealthy are pulling ahead. The middle class is actually falling behind.
Just something to keep in mind, the next time you hear about how awesomely awesome the US economy is.