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December 24, 2013 - Chris Tomassucci
Here, in one great animated GIF (created by Dorsey Shaw of Buzzfeed), is a perfect visualization of the destruction of the American Dream:
It is a comparison of the average income of the top 1% of Americans with everyone else.
After the Great Depression, the share of income going to the richest 1% of people in the U.S. went down (PDF link) while at the same time the bottom 90% began to see more.
As our economy recovered and the great middle class was built, the top 1%’s share was down to 11.3%, while the bottom 90% received 67.5% of all income. It would remain that way through the late 1970’s.
Then, as you can see in the GIF, the upper tier of earners began to take everything while the bottom 90% started to get less.
So, here we are today, 2013. The gap between the top 1% and the bottom 90% is as bad as it has been since 1928.
Today for the first time ever, the bottom 90% of earners take home less than half of all pretax income, 49.6%. The top 1% takes home 22.5% of all pretax income.
A few things to think about:
— Minimum wage, in inflation adjusted U.S. Dollars, reached its peak in 1968 at $10.30 an hour in today’s money. That is a full 30% higher than the current minimum wage of $7.25. Minimum wage is below what it was in even 2010 when adjusted for inflation, meaning minimum wage earners have seen a pay cut in the past 3 years.
— During those same three years, we have seen the top 1% get even richer. The stock market has closed at a record high almost 50 times this year alone.
— Without any raises, just keeping up with inflation, minimum wage workers should be getting $10.52 an hour today to have kept up with their counterparts in the 1960s.
— Forget inflation, if minimum wage had kept up with increases in worker productivity it would be $21.72 today.
— And here is a headline from the Dec. 23 Wall Street Journal to wash it all down: Big Rally to Pump Up Wall Street Bonuses.
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