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New 2009 Census Data: Income Down for the Poor, Down for the Middle Class, Up for the Rich in the USA

(All dollar figures below in 2009 dollars, adjusted for inflation)

New figures on Americans’ household income in 2009 released by the U.S. Census Bureau today divide the U.S. population into quintiles, fifths of the population ordered by their income. Data show that the four lowest quintiles in the U.S. population — those earning $100,000 or less — earned less on average in 2009 than they did in 2008. But the top income quintile — the 20% of American households earning the most income — earned more on average in 2009 than they did in 2008. Even in the midst of the toughest economic recession in years, the rich are increasing their income while the income of the middle class and the poor goes down.

Here’s the breakdown:

The bottom income quintile (households earning $20,453 or less a year) earned 0.5% less on average in 2009 than in 2008.
The 2nd income quintile (households earning $20,454 to $38,550 a year) also earned 0.5% less on average in 2009 than in 2008.
The 3rd income quintile (households earning $38,551 to $61,801 a year) earned 0.8% less on average in 2009 than in 2008.
The 4th income quintile (households earning $61,802 to $100,000 a year) earned 1.0% less on average in 2009 than in 2008.
The top income quintile (households earning more than $100,000 a year) earned 0.3% more on average in 2009 than in 2008.
Within the top quintile, the top 5% (households earning more than $180,000 a year) earned 0.6% more on average in 2009 than in 2008.

Incomes of the well-off are up. Incomes of the rest of us are down. 2009 is the continuation of a long-term pattern of growing income inequality:

Mean Household Income in the United States, 1967-2009, from U.S. Census Bureau data updated September 16, 2010

Yesterday, the leadership of the Republican Party in Congress issued its policy proposal to deal with the situation: cut taxes for the rich.

5 comments to New 2009 Census Data: Income Down for the Poor, Down for the Middle Class, Up for the Rich in the USA

  • Tom

    Yeah, our country is just SOOOOO GREAT (unless you’re joining the burgeoning ranks of those in poverty – which is bound to climb higher in the coming years):

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100916/ap_on_bi_ge/us_census_poverty

  • The continuation of this 30 year trend in anti-labor sentiment by the GOP and the wealthy really is no surprise.

    And of course the GOP is still pressing on with their brilliant plan of more tax cuts for the rich, months later.

    Outrageous.

    • Anonymous

      How do the subsidies for all quitiles figure into these data? They don’t. Higher income get higher mortgage deductions, but the bottom quintile receive innumerable subsidies that percentage wise are significant. In short, these data do not show the whole story.

    • Duelles

      How do the subsidies for all quitiles figure into these data? They don’t. Higher income get higher mortgage deductions, but the bottom quintile receive innumerable subsidies that percentage wise are significant. In short, these data do not show the whole story.

  • Michael Underhill

    Hello Mr Cook
    I do animations that illustrate things like the graph above. for an example visit
    http://youtu.be/mhkekZIjQEg my next project involves illustrating the graph you have above , my gut tells me that the picture maybe even worse than stated above, due to increase participation by women in the work force, my sense is that since your data is based on family incomes,(I believe I’m looking at the same US Census graph) and i believe women are participating more hours thus some of the minor increases for lower incomes are actually just more work hours. But I don’t present what my gut tells me , I’m looking for data on hours worked by family, to back me up. thus far my searches have proved unsuccessful , any suggestions

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