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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Study Says America's Income Gap Widest Since Great Depression

Sep 10, 2013
Originally published on September 10, 2013 6:02 pm

The gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent is growing, according to an analysis of IRS figures by an international group of university economists, and it hasn't been so wide since 1928.

The incomes of the very wealthiest 1 percent of Americans increased by 31.4 percent from 2009 to 2012. By contrast, the bottom 99 percent saw their earnings in the same period go up by just 0.4 percent. In 2012, the top 1 percent collected 19.3 percent of all household income and the top 10 percent took home a record 48.2 percent of total earnings, The Associated Press reports.

The result, according to the analysis by economists from the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University, who looked at 1913 onward, is the broadest income gap between super-rich and everyone else since just before the Great Depression.

The AP says:

"The top 1 percent of American households had pretax income above $394,000 last year. The top 10 percent had income exceeding $114,000.

"The income figures include wages, pension payments, dividends and capital gains from the sale of stocks and other assets. They do not include so-called transfer payments from government programs such as unemployment benefits and Social Security.

"The gap between rich and poor narrowed after World War II as unions negotiated better pay and benefits and as the government enacted a minimum wage and other policies to help the poor and middle class.

"The top 1 percent's share of income bottomed out at 7.7 percent in 1973 and has risen steadily since the early 1980s, according to the analysis."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.