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America’s Growing Income Gap Shows Two Recoveries in Action

Two Recoveries  A look at U.S. income inequality

Since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, one measure of income inequality has reached its widest point in more than 40 years. The Gini index, which measures how income is distributed, was 0.47 in 2011 – a 1.6 percent increase from 2010 and the first statistically significant annual increase since 1993. A score of 0 would indicate perfectly equal distribution, while a score of 1 would reflect a population in which one individual received all the income.


How aggregate income has changed

Percent change in share of aggregate income since 1967
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Richest 5%
Richest 20%
Second 20%
Third 20%
Fourth 20%
Poorest 20%
40%
30
20
10
0
-10
-20
-30
2011
Richest 5 pct: Share of income
increased 29.7% since 1967
Poorest 20 pct: Share of income
decreased 20.0% since 1967
1960s
1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s
2011
60%
50
40
30
20
10
0
1967
17.2%
Richest fifth:
43.6%
24.2%
17.3%
10.8%
4.0%
2011
22.3%
Richest fifth:
51.1%
23.0%
14.3%
8.4%
3.2%
1960s
1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Quintiles defined by the following income thresholds:
Richest 5%:
Greater than or equal to $186,000; Richest 20%: Greater than or equal to $101,583; Second 20%: Between $62,435 and $101,582; Third 20%: Between $38,521 and $62,434; Fourth 20%: Between $20,263 and $38,520; Poorest 20%: Less than or equal to $20,262

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