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Illustrating Income Inequality, Part 3: Top 1 Percent’s Share of Income Largest Since 1920s

In our second post, we showed how income gains since 1979 at the very top have far outpaced those for everyone else.  In this post, we’ll look at how the top 1 percent’s share of all income has changed over time.

The top 1 percent’s slice of the total economic pie has grown sharply in recent decades, approaching highs last reached in the Roaring ’20s.  The top 1 percent of households’ share of income fell from nearly a quarter of all income in the late 1920s through the period of greater equality in the middle of the 20th century, according to data from decades of tax returns.  But the top 1 percent’s share has increased once again in recent decades.  By 2007, before the financial crisis and Great Recession, it was closing in on late-1920s levels.

For a more detailed discussion of the data underlying these charts, see A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality.