The vast gulf between the top 1 percent and the rest of us is well known by now, and you can take your pick of statistics. The top 1 percent got 93 percent of income gains in 2010. The top 1 percent got 40 percent of the total wealth gained between 1983 and 2009. Six Walmart heirs have as much money as the bottom 30 percent of the population. Tens of thousands of them pay a lower tax rate than middle-class families. And so on.
Well, guess what groups drove the increasing gap between the top 1 percent, especially the top 0.1 percent, and the rest of us between 1979 and 2005? Executives and the financial sector.
Households headed by a non-finance executive were associated with 44 percent of the growth of the top 0.1 percent’s income share and 36 percent in the growth among the top 1.0 percent. Those in the financial sector were associated with nearly a fourth (23 percent) of the expansion of the income shares of both the top 1.0 and top 0.1 percent. Together, finance and executives accounted for 58 percent of the expansion of income for the top 1.0 percent of households and an even greater two-thirds share (67 percent) of the income growth of the top 0.1 percent of households.It's not doctors or lawyers, not top professional athletes or movie stars or musicians. The corporate world and the financial sector are responsible not just for increasing incomes at the top, but for the increasing distance between the top 1 percent and the rest of us. And it was happening while corporations were cutting jobs in America and sending them overseas for cheap labor and while the financial sector was sowing the seeds of the financial crisis that caused our entire economy to crash.