The Rich Are Getting Richer...Can the Poor Get Much Poorer?

The top one percent of income earners bounced back from the economic downturn. Guess who didn’t.

Wealth Inequality in America & U.S. Income Distribution: The Rich Just Get Richer

(Image: James E. McConnel/Getty)

TakePart News Editor Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is a journalist who has worked in many corners of the world for major news organizations.

Where’s Robin Hood when you need him?

The rich have rebounded from the Great Recession of 2007—rather handsomely, in fact—which means the income gap hasn’t been this wide for at least 100 years, according to a new study of IRS statistics conducted by UC Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics, and Oxford University.

The top one percent of earners saw their incomes grow by 31 percent, on average, from 2009 to 2012. In that same period, the incomes of the bottom 99 percent grew by less than half of one percent.

The effective result is that the bottom 99 percent have not begun to recover, but the top one percent have all but completely come back.

The average income for the top one percent was $394,000 in 2012.

The study looked at all income reported on taxes, including wages, pensions received, business profit, and other gains from 1913, onward.

UC Berkeley Economist Emmanuel Saez notes in his study that economic problems rarely stick to the rich, depressing their incomes temporarily.

The solution may lie in drastic regulation and tax policy changes that prevent the rich from getting the biggest income bounce post-Recession, Saez writes.

“Such policy changes took place after the Great Depression during the New Deal and permanently reduced income concentration until the 1970s,” Saez wrote.

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