Economic Gains Flow to the Top in Wisconsin

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 5:12 PM by

Day 3 of a 5-Day Series on Income Inequality in Wisconsin

The economic gains of recent decades have gone mainly to the top earners in Wisconsin. The result is that middle and working class Wisconsinites have largely missed out on the economic growth that has occurred since the mid-1990s.

The economic gains of the last two decades have not been equally distributed across the income spectrum. The total income earned by Wisconsinites increased by $22 billion between 1996 and 2010 in current dollars. Of that gain, only 19 percent went to the bottom 80 percent of earners. The other 81 percent went to the top 20 percent of earners in Wisconsin, as shown in the chart below. Nearly a third of the increase in income in Wisconsin between 1996 and 2010 went to the top 1 percent of earners.

This unequal distribution of economic gains has accelerated over the last decade. In the latter part of the 1990s and the early 2000s, the distribution of economic gains didn’t change much, as shown in the chart below. But since 2002, the share of economic gains going to the bottom 80 percent has steadily shrunk, down to 19 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, the gains of the top one percent increased. This trend continued through the recession, which started in 2008.

Go here to read other posts in this week’s series on income inequality in Wisconsin.

Tamarine Cornelius 

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