Study: Most Of Income Growth Goes To Top 1 Percent Of Wage Earners

February 24, 2014

A new report on income growth in Arizona shows a 17 percent increase from 1979 to the start of the recession. That’s not a particularly healthy rate of growth for a span of almost 30 years. A breakdown by the Economic Policy Institute shows most of the money went to the top 1 percent of wage earners.

Mark Price, who co-authored the report, says worker productivity is at its highest level but most are not sharing in the prosperity.

“The bottom line is that if they’re not taking it home in their paychecks, a lot of it’s flowing up to the very highest-income folks,” Price said.

The report found just over 84 percent of the income growth in Arizona between 1979 and 2011 went to the wealthiest state residents, whose incomes grew even during the recession. Price says the decline of the union movement is one reason middle-class employees are seeing their earnings sag but that’s not the only reason.

“There was a time in America when a CEO getting a big pay package, a raise, in a period of high unemployment would inspire a lot of public outrage,” Price said. “That culture, obviously, has changed."

The report shows the average income of the top one-percent of Arizona wage earners is more than $713,000 a year. It shows the average for everyone else near $35,000 a year.