The 1% has been capturing more than 100 percent of all income growth in America

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The top 1% of America's earners have recently captured more than 100 percent of all national income growth, another sign of the ongoing severity of income inequality in the U.S.

According to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, between 2009 and 2012, the incomes of individuals making an average of $1.3 million climbed 36.8 percent.


Meanwhile, the incomes for the rest of the country have actually been slightly negative, at -0.4 percent, during that same period. As a result, the 1% has controlled 106 percent of all income growth.

The imbalance continues a trend that's been occurring for more than 30 years, according to EPII. Since 1979, the 1% has captured 54 percent of all income growth in the U.S.

"Economic expansions from coast to coast are increasingly generating income growth for the highest earners," the study's coauthor, economist Mark Price, said in an email. "What has been going on since 1979 stands out in deep contrast to the six expansions between 1949 and 1979 which tend to drive most income growth to the bottom 99 percent rather than the top 1%."

In some states, the share of recent income growth captured by the 1% has been astronomical. In Florida, incomes for the 1% surged 40 percent, while incomes for the rest of the state's population fell 7 percent, allowing residents making approximately $1.5 million on average to capture 260 percent of recent income growth.


And in Delaware, incomes for residents making an average of $884,000 climbed 15 percent, while falling 1.6 percent for the rest of the state, allowing its one percent to take 300 percent of all income growth.


According to French economist Thomas Piketty, the U.S. is now the most unequal country in the developed world. The EPI report shows that America's Northeast may actually be the most unequal region in the developed world, with its 1% recently controlling as much as 26% of all income.


Price believes the widening nationwide inequality phenomenon threatens to undermine equality of opportunity in the U.S.

"Increased inequality may eventually reduce intergenerational income mobility," he writes. "More than in most other advanced countries, in America the children of affluent parents grow up to be affluent, and the children of the poor remain poor. Today’s levels of inequality in the United States raise a new American Dilemma: Can rising inequality be tolerated in a country that values so dearly the ideal that all people should have opportunity to succeed, regardless of the circumstances of their birth?"


A Dec. 2013 Pew poll showed Americans care less about income inequality than most other developed nations. The White House, at least, is nevertheless attempting to address the issue, with President Obama recently laying out a proposal to increase capital gains taxes and close other tax loopholes that disproportionately benefit the wealthy. These would be used to help pay for new earned income tax credits and free community college.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

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