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Income growth for the top 1 percent returned in 2014, the most recent year for which national-level data are available, with the top 1 percent taking home 21.24 percent of all income in the United States.
In the following sections we present data unique to this study by replicating Piketty and Saez’s method for each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia and for 916 metropolitan areas and 3,064 counties. Downloadable Excel files with 2014 data updates to tables and figures in Piketty and Saez (2003).
Their work helped inspire the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011 and continues to resonate among the public.
Growing public concern over rising inequality has also reinvigorated academic debates about whether inequality matters at all (Mankiw 2013) and about the role of finance and top executives in driving the growth of inequality (Bivens and Mishel 2013), and has spurred interest in how rising inequality limits the number of Americans who actually experience a “rags to riches” story over their lifetime (Corak 2013).
1 do not permit analysis of trends in the top 1 percent of households at the state level: Sample sizes are too small in some states (even when data are pooled across multiple years), and the data are “top coded.” This means that above a certain threshold, the highest incomes are not recorded at the actual income level reported to Census survey takers.
Instead, they are reported at a specified top income.
In 24 states, the top 1 percent captured at least half of all income growth between 20, and in 15 of those states, the top 1 percent captured all income growth.In 2013 the top 1 percent of families nationally made 25.3 times as much as the bottom 99 percent.Why it matters: Rising inequality is not just a story of those in the financial sector in the greater New York City metropolitan area reaping outsized rewards from speculation in financial markets.Our state data extend from 1917 to 2013, and our county and metropolitan area data are for 2013. Piketty, Thomas, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman. “Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States since 1913.” Presentation to the 2016 Allied Social Science Associations annual meeting, San Francisco, Calif., Jan. To remain consistent with the most current national data from Piketty and Saez, all figures are in 2014 dollars.