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The Great Income Shift


We’ve updated our chart and table on how the change in income distribution between 1979 and 2007 affected different income groups to reflect a slightly different methodology. Below are the revised figures.

For example, the average middle-income American family had $13,000 less after-tax income in 2007, and an average household in the top 1 percent had $782,600 more, than they would have had if incomes of all groups had grown at an equal rate since 1979.

Impact on Average Incomes of Change in Income Distribution
Between 1979 and 2007
Income Group Actual Average
Income in 2007
Average Income if
All Income Levels Had
Enjoyed Equal Growth
Since 1979
Gain or Loss
From Income Shift
Since 1979
Bottom Fifth $17,700 $23,700 -$6,000
Second Fifth $38,000 $48,000 -$10,000
Middle Fifth $55,300 $68,300 -$13,000
Fourth Fifth $77,700 $89,400 -$11,700
Top Fifth $198,300 $157,600 $40,700
Top 1 Percent $1,319,700 $537,100 $782,600