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Top 1% Leaving Others in the Dust

After-tax incomes nearly quadrupled for the top 1 percent of Americans in the last three decades, while barely rising among middle- and lower-income households, according to new data from the Congressional Budget Office. Here’s how different income groups did over that period:

The new CBO data — the most comprehensive numbers available on income inequality — only go through 2007, so they don’t show the impact of the recession and the stock market plunge. These events may have reduced inequality somewhat by shrinking incomes the most at the top, as the bursting of the bubble did a decade ago. But as the chart shows, that turned out to be just a speed bump for the top 1 percent, whose after-tax incomes soon resumed their climb. I’ll discuss some other findings from the CBO data in a post next week.