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Household income of the middle class, actual and projected assuming it grew at the overall average rate, 1979-2010.
You can thank rising inequality for your stagnant income. According to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, "if inequality had not risen between 1979 and 2007, middle-class incomes would have been nearly $18,000 higher in 2007." That's because the very top earners sucked up way more than their share of the income growth that happened in those years.

Average household incomes grew by 53.4 percent from 1979 to 2007. But that didn't break down equally:

  • The bottom fifth of households saw their income go up by 29.2 percent, well below the 53.4 percent average.
  • Income for the middle fifth of households grew by a measly 19.7 percent.
  • But how did people a little higher up, but not at the very top, do? A little better, but still below average: households between the 81st and 90th percentiles—so in the bottom half of the top fifth of the income ladder—had just 39.1 percent income growth. Again, well below that average of 53.4.
  • So how far up do you have to go before you hit the average? The 91st to the 95th percentile almost got there, with 53 percent average growth. But they fell just short. Households between the 96th and 99th percentile seriously exceeded 53.4 percent, though. They had average income growth of 78.1 percent.
  • That's nothing compared to the top 1 percent, though: Their income grew by 244.7 percent, close to five times the average.

For the vast majority of Americans, income growth hasn't kept up with the average. It hasn't kept up with productivity. Instead, we get the insane wealth that now exists at the top, then a chasm, with what used to be America's middle class clinging to its walls by their fingernails. It didn't happen by accident, and it's not going to change because we ask politely.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 12:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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