Incomes of Top One Percent Soar in Wisconsin

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 1:12 PM by

Day 2 of a 5-Day Series on Income Inequality in Wisconsin

If many Wisconsinites feel like they are falling behind economically, that’s because they are.

Since the mid-1990s, the incomes of middle class and working class people in Wisconsin have stagnated or decreased, while the top earners enjoyed substantial increases in income, as shown in the chart below.

The modest gains made by people in the middle of the income spectrum in Wisconsin are dwarfed by the gains made by the top one percent. Earners in the middle 20 percent and the 4th 20 percent experienced about a ten percent increase in income between 1996 and 2010, as shown in the chart below. The total income of the top one percent, in contrast, grew by more than 40 percent over this period, after adjusting for inflation.

One of the concerning things this chart shows us is that the total income of the bottom 40 percent in Wisconsin actually decreased between 1996 and 2010, by five percent. This represents a group of more than a million Wisconsinites who are losing ground economically.

Wisconsin needs a strong middle class. But the income of the middle class has been – at best – stuck in neutral in for more than a decade.

Tamarine Cornelius

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