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US rich get richer; middle class suffer

27 October 2011, 15:33

Washington - The richest 1% of Americans have been getting far richer over the past three decades, while the middle class and poor have seen their after-tax household income doing nothing more than crawling up by comparison, according to a government study.

Average after-tax income for the top 1% of US households almost quadrupled, up 275%, from 1979 to 2007, the Congressional Budget Office found. For people in the middle of the economic scale, after-tax income grew by just 40%. Those at the bottom experienced an 18% increase.

"The distribution of after-tax income in the United States was substantially more unequal in 2007 than in 1979," CBO Director Doug Elmendorf said in a blog post.

"The share of income accruing to higher-income households increased, whereas the share accruing to other households declined."

The top 1% made $165 000 or more in 1979; that jumped to $347 000 in 2007, the study said. The income for the top fifth started at $51 289 in 1979 and rose to $70 578 in 2007. On the other end of the spectrum, those in the 20th percentile went from $12 823 in 1979 to $14 851 in 2007.

The report, based on data from the Internal Revenue Service tax collection agency and the Census Bureau, comes as the Occupy Wall Street movement protests corporate bailouts and the gap between the haves and have-nots. Demonstrators call themselves "the 99 percent".

The report also found:

- The top 20% of the population earned 53% of after-tax income in 2007, as opposed to 43% in 1979.

- The top 1% reaped a 17% share of all income, up from 8% in 1979.

- The bottom 20% reaped just 5% of after-tax income, versus 7% in 1979.

- AP

Tags us economy

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