Tamarine Cornelius
Wisconsin Budget

State’s Wealth Gap Keeps Growing

Since 1970s income of top 1% rose 130%, other 99% grew by just 9%.

By , Wisconsin Budget Project - Aug 11th, 2017 03:15 pm
American Cash by Psychonaught. Photo of money

American Cash by Psychonaught. Photo of money

It turns out that a rising tide doesn’t lift all boats.

As the economy has expanded over the past decades, prosperity has not been broadly shared. Income gains have been directed into the pockets of those who already have very high incomes, while incomes of the rest have stagnated. The result is that workers in Wisconsin and across the country are missing out on reaping the rewards of their increased productivity, while the incomes of the top 1% soar.

The incomes of the very richest have increased dramatically, while the incomes of everyone else have stagnated. Since the late 1970s, the income of the top 1% in Wisconsin has increased by more than 130%, while the income of the remaining 99% has increased just 9%. The share of all income that is captured by the top 1% has more than doubled since the 1970s, to the point where $1 out of every $6 in Wisconsin now goes to the top 1% of earners.

The increasing level of income inequality acts as a drag on Wisconsin’s economic growth. Wisconsin families and businesses can’t thrive when all the income growth goes to the very top. For Wisconsin’s economy to be on a solid foundation, everyone needs to benefit from increases in productivity.

The data feature below shows the outsize gains in share of income and total income for the highest earners in Wisconsin. You can use these charts to explore how the incomes of those at the very top have increased dramatically, capturing an ever-growing share of the total income.

For more information on how growing income inequality is hurting Wisconsin, read our new report: Pulling Apart 2017: Focus on Wisconsin’s 1%. The report – which is authored by the Wisconsin Budget Project and COWS, using data from the Economic Analysis Research Network – includes data on inequality in all 72 Wisconsin counties and the major metropolitan areas, as well as a set of recommendations for achieving stronger and more equitable growth in our state.

10 thoughts on “Wisconsin Budget: State’s Wealth Gap Keeps Growing”

  1. Jason Troll says:

    When you are factoring income disparities do you account for government assistance. My understanding is the food stamp program. heating assistance, housing assistance, Badgercare, the Obama phone and other government benefits do not count as income. So base on your facts. People that have no income or very low income are not as poor as your study suggests. These benefits have monetary worth. You just choose to ignore them.

  2. Vincent Hanna says:

    Since you mention facts Troll and care about them so much:

    Q: Has the Obama administration started a program to use “taxpayer money” to give free cell phones to welfare recipients?

    A: No. Low-income households have been eligible for discounted telephone service for more than a decade. But the program is funded by telecom companies, not by taxes, and the president has nothing to do with it.

    Now you can get back to believing that poor brown people are living it up on your tax dollars.

  3. Jason Troll says:

    Vince, i am just calling it what it is. Go to obamaphone.com and get your free phone. It also directs you to food stamps and medicaid. Vince, why do you always call African Americans and Hispanic people. Brown people? I senses a hint of Racism.

  4. Vincent Hanna says:

    By calling it what it is you mean you are ignoring reality and facts so that you can continue to peddle a right-wing myth meant to make the first black president look bad. Because again “the president has nothing to do with it.” But hey right-wing trolls are fact-averse so no surprise here.

    White lives matter Troll! How is the rally in Virginia? Having a good time?

  5. MKE kid says:

    Many people are working poor. They do have full time job(s,) but without health insurance and other benefits like paid sick days. ACA does have numerous faults, but it’s better than nothing. Goverment assistance programs have gotten more stringent since the 1980s. Many times, people working low wage jobs are not eligible for these programs because they are “making too much.”

    Trickle down economics does not work. That has been demonstrated since the 1980s when the US wage gap started to grow. It’s gotten to the point of being obscene by now.

    And for those that smugly think they are doing fine, think again. Private health insurance does have limits. A bad accident or a serious disease can cause you to exceed those limits. Also, jobs are constantly being outsourced. I’ve known too many (engineers, middle and upper management, etc.) that thought they were doing fine until the rug got pulled out from under their feet.

  6. waltinseattle says:

    Troll, gov’t assist DOES COUNT as income in many qualifications to programs. Even a STUDENT LOAN can be considered income. Of course its is a loan to be repaid, but meanwhile, and though you never see it, it is in your pocket and is income for some purposes.

    So much for that alt-full disclosure, thank you.

    Since the market price is set by what people will/can pay…the top ranks seet the price. You may be familiar with costs of housing? I am not just talking of the new highly desirable locations in the oh so lux designer housing. For average rates and what is asked are truly a TRICKLE DOWN phomena. When the cost of lux goes up a but, the cost across thee board goes up. It seems they go up by an equal amount, not an equal percent, very often. If rolls royce goes up 1500, ford goes up 1200, tatra 1000.

    In a word Squeezier and squeezier until the turnip is out of turnip blood.

  7. Colin Stuart says:

    Jason, there is NO ‘obama phone’. that website is a joke. scroll to the bottom and read what it says “OBAMAPHONE.COM IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY DEPARTMENT OF THE US GOVERNMENT,

    Yes Obama expanded the law so that the subsidy program would include mobile phones too (previously under much older law….one from 1985, signed into law by your good ol’ boy Reagan, it only applied to landlines… when cellphones barely even existed). It’s great that Obama did this, because landlines are a joke, they’re more expensive and less useful than a cellphone. The fact the law has been amended and modernized is a GOOD thing, and would’ve been signed by anyone who had a conscience or even a brain for that matter.

    Regardless, the assistance / welfare received by those in poverty is NOTHING compared to the orders of magnitude of money the rich are getting more and more year after year…. and the continued tax cuts on the rich only exacerbate this fact. None of that money earned by the rich EVER trickles back down, which only leads to less money to assist the poor, or budget deficits, or both.

    Your republican boys are tricking you. I’d guess your household is making $60-110k. You get maybe a couple hundred more $ a year due to any of the BS the repubs do to the laws, all the assistance programs that help MILLIONS across the state get cut and cut, and the million/billionaires that lobby/puppet master for the gov are laughing all the way to the bank with the real money… (which only remains in the family, or back to lobby to republicans to make laws even worse so they can make even MORE money) … just as this article shows. Stop fooling yourself over chump change, and even better, stop listening to talk radio or any of those other scummy tv / web programs you’re probably hooked on. The few jokers making the laws / business-owners don’t care about you, and they don’t care about helping out millions of Wisconsinites live and thrive

  8. Jason Troll says:

    My point is the author does not factor in Badgercare, half all babies born in Wisconsin are born on state and federal aid. Where does that factor into the analysis? Surely, electricity and water has an intrinsic value, yet we must assume that a person who has no income uses no services?

  9. Jason Troll says:

    Colin, if you were a good little marxist you would realize most wealthy people don’t pay income taxes, they own capital and pay capital gains and dividends. The top five richest Americans are all committed Democrats. They side with you and want income taxes to go up, up, up. Working class people pay income taxes. If your buddy Bernie Sanders was for a wealth tax, all these committed Democrats would balk. Why does William Gates need 80 billion dollars when he can live well on one Billion. Democrats protect the ultra rich.

  10. Tom D says:

    Jason, thanks so much for telling us that “The top five richest Americans are all committed Democrats.”

    I had no idea that Charles and David Koch had switched parties!

    p.s. When people pay federal taxes on capital gains or dividends, that tax is “income tax”.

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