Arloc Sherman of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities writes today that “new data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) show that in 2006, the top 1 percent of households had a larger share of the nation’s after-tax income, and the middle and bottom fifths of households had smaller shares, than in any year since 1979, the first year the CBO data cover.” According to Sherman, this means that “the gaps in after-tax incomes between households in the top 1 percent and those in the middle and bottom fifths were the widest on record”:
Top incomes continued climbing in the 1990s, to 20.6 times higher than the middle fifth of households in 2000 and 21.3 times higher in 2005. By 2006, top incomes were 23.0 times higher than those of the middle fifth — nearly tripling the income gap between the top 1 percent and those in the middle since 1979.
The gap between the top 1 percent and the poorest fifth of Americans widened even more dramatically over this same period. In 1979, the incomes of the top 1 percent were 22.6 times higher than those of the bottom fifth. Top incomes continued climbing to 63.1 times higher in 2000 and 72.7 times higher by 2006 — more than tripling the rich-poor gap in 27 years.
Sherman adds that “taken together with prior research, the new data suggest greater income concentration at the top than at any time since 1929.”