Income Inequities

The U.S. Treasury publishes statistical tables showing the adjusted gross incomes of groups of taxpayers. Dig in and you will find a Table 5 from which I took the data (in June 2010) to draw these charts.

The first chart shows the floor incomes of certain percentiles of taxpayers. Of all the people in that percentile, the person with the smallest income is selected, and his or her income is shown.

We see that between 2001 and 2007, the person with the smallest income in the wealthiest 0.1% of U.S. taxpayers saw his or her income increase from about $1.3 million to about $2.2 million, about 70%, which is a pretty good rate of increase. The income of the poorest person in the wealthiest 1% increased from $293 thousand to $410 thousand, about 40%, not so grand, but still pretty decent.

Let’s now consider the Man in the Middle, the poorest person in the wealthiest 50%. This is the one person who is wealthier than exactly half the taxpayers and who is poorer than the rest of the wealthier half. His income increased, too, from $56 thousand to $67 thousand, about 20%, but adjusted for inflation, this was just about constant income. Rather it was a very tiny decline, to be precise.

Over the full 25 years of time shown on the chart, the income of the Man in the Middle increased from $17,302 to $32,879, about 90%. Adjusted for inflation, the increase was about $75 1986 dollars, less than 1%.

The same chart in constant dollars follows.

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