The U.S. Economic Policy Insititute offers this fascinating (but also scary) interactive graph. Set the slidders to the dates 1970 and 2008, and it reveals that while average incomes in the U.S. grew by US$12,320, all of the growth went to the richest 10 per cent of the population. Income for the bottom 90 per cent actually declined over that time.
The EPI’s The State of Working America publication sums up: “This fragmenting of income growth has been accompanied by other fissures—for example, those at the bottom of the income distribution are not only less likely to get ahead financially, but they have also been left behind when it comes to recent gains to overall life expectancy. In the past three decades, it has been impossible to answer the basic question of ‘how’s the economy doing’ without first specifying for whom.”
So much for the American Dream. But this, of course, isn’t unique to the United States. A report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that between 1997 and 2007, the richest 1 per cent of Canadians (246,000 people) accounted for 32 per cent of all income growth.