Published on
Agence France Presse

US Income Disparity, Economic Anxiety Grow: Studies


Household income for top 1% more than triples, while middle-class incomes grow by less than 40%. (AFP/Getty)

WASHINGTON — Income for the richest Americans has grown 15 times faster than for the poor since 1979, a government study showed, as a poll out Wednesday highlighted deep anxiety over uneven wealth distribution a year ahead of US elections.

The income disparity, and concentration of more than 80 percent of US income wealth in the top 20 percent of earners, highlights the volatility in the race for the White House as President Barack Obama's Republican challengers push plans to reduce taxes for the wealthy as a way to prime the sluggish economy.

From 1979 to 2007, the wealthiest one percent of Americans more than doubled their share of the nation's income, from nearly eight percent to 17 percent, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report released Tuesday.

"Income after transfers and federal taxes for households at the higher end of the income scale rose much more rapidly than income for households in the middle and at the lower end of the income scale," it said.

Government policy over the years has become less redistributive, and "the equalizing effect of transfers and taxes on household income was smaller in 2007 than it had been in 1979," the CBO added.

For the wealthiest one percent of the population, average after-tax household income grew by 275 percent during the period, compared with just 18 percent for the poorest 20 percent.


Never Miss a Beat.

Get our best delivered to your inbox.

It was also a far greater increase than for the six tenths of the population in the middle of the income scale, who saw their average after-tax income grow by just under 40 percent during the same period.

Meanwhile a new poll by The New York Times and CBS News found that the vast majority of Americans fear a stagnation or deterioration of the economy, and showed that two thirds of the public believe US wealth should be distributed more evenly.

And in a critique of Obama as he attempts to position himself as the candidate best-placed to improve the status of the nation's working class, 28 percent of poll respondents said his policies favor the rich, compared with 23 percent saying they favor the middle class and 17 percent saying they favor the poor.

By contrast, 69 percent of respondents said Republican policies favor the rich, nine percent said they favor the middle class and two percent said they favor the poor.

The October 19-24 telephone poll of 1,650 adults had a three percent margin of error.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Share This Article

More in: