Between 1921 and 2008, the top 10% and the bottom 90% shared income gains equally. The split was 50-50 exactly, according to a new fun interactive graphic built by the Economic Policy Institute with data from economist Emmanuel Saez.
But between 1971 and 2008, real income declined for the bottom 90%. All the growth went to the top 10%, and more than half went to the top percentile.
Saez' income data is widely used, but also controversial, since it focuses on market wages and discounts gains from government programs to help the lower-income. But this is a familiar story. The remarkable gains of the (broadly-defined) "middle class" in the middle of this century stopped cold in the last quarter of the 1900s. The all-important and impossible-to-answer question is whether the next generation will look more like the 30 years after World War II or the last 30 years.