The Wealthy in the Recession
Recently released Census data confirm that the wealthy are back on track after suffering only minor setbacks. Incomes fell across the board from 2007, before the recession began, to 2008. Everyone took a hit, from the poorest quintile to the richest. But that’s where the shared pain ends. From 2008 to 2009 almost everyone’s income continued to fall except the rich. The richest 5 percent of Americans saw their average income rise last year by $1,800.
Not so for those in the middle. Median household income continued to slide from 2008 to 2009, falling by $335. In fact, the median household has lost almost $2,200 in annual income since the recession began. That is the largest two-year decline in at least 35 years and amounts to a drop of more than 4 percent.
In short, only the top quintile of earners have gained anything in the past year. And the fourth quintile — those in the 60th to 80th percentiles, presumably mostly low-income earners who make too much for government assistance — have lost proportionately the most in the last two years.