Growing Gap between Rich and Everyone Else Thwarts Economic Opportunity

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 4:13 PM by

It turns out that a rising tide doesn’t lift all boats.

As the economy has expanded over the past decades, prosperity has not been broadly shared. Income gains have been directed into the pockets of those who already have very high incomes, while incomes of the rest have stagnated. The result is that workers in Wisconsin and across the country are missing out on reaping the rewards of their increased productivity, while the incomes of the top 1% soar.

The incomes of the very richest have increased dramatically, while the incomes of everyone else have stagnated. Since the late 1970s, the income of the top 1% in Wisconsin has increased by more than 130%, while the income of the remaining 99% has increased just 9%. The share of all income that is captured by the top 1% has more than doubled since the 1970s, to the point where $1 out of every $6 in Wisconsin now goes to the top 1% of earners.

The increasing level of income inequality acts as a drag on Wisconsin’s economic growth. Wisconsin families and businesses can’t thrive when all the income growth goes to the very top. For Wisconsin’s economy to be on a solid foundation, everyone needs to benefit from increases in productivity.

The data feature below shows the outsize gains in share of income and total income for the highest earners in Wisconsin. You can use these charts to explore how the incomes of those at the very top have increased dramatically, capturing an ever-growing share of the total income.

For more information on how growing income inequality is hurting Wisconsin, read our new report: Pulling Apart 2017: Focus on Wisconsin’s 1%. The report – which is authored by the Wisconsin Budget Project and COWS, using data from the Economic Analysis Research Network – includes data on inequality in all 72 Wisconsin counties and the major metropolitan areas, as well as a set of recommendations for achieving stronger and more equitable growth in our state.

If you are receiving this post via email, you will need to continue to our website to get access to the full functionality of the interactive charts.

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