A Wage-Less and Income-Less Recovery for PA’s 99 Percent New Study

Top 1% Only Group to See Income Gains Since 2009
Date of Press Release: 
January 26, 2015

Pennsylvania briefing paper at http://keystoneresearch.org/increasingly_unequal2015

National study at http://goo.gl/AnFnMt

Pennsylvania fact sheet at http://goo.gl/8CdtB5

Pennsylvania graphic at (pdf/png)

County and metropolitan data at (pdf/xlsx)

A Wage-Less and Income-Less Recovery for PA’s 99 Percent
New Study: Top 1% Only Group to See Income Gains Since 2009

HARRISBURG, PA (Jan. 26, 2015) — The top 1 percent of Pennsylvania earners are the only group to see their incomes grow in the current economic expansion, according to a new report The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State released today nationally by the Economic Analysis Research Network (EARN) and the Economic Policy Institute, and in Pennsylvania by the Keystone Research Center.

KRC’s release includes expanded Pennsylvania-specific analysis by the authors of the national report, Dr. Mark Price and Dr. Estelle Sommelier.  The Pennsylvania release examines trends in the state’s income growth during the last 10 economic expansions, as well as county level and metropolitan area data on the share of income earned by the top 1 percent.

“Recent income trends represent a worsening of a three-decade trend, with the top 1 percent of earners capturing an ever-increasing share of income growth until, in this recovery, top earners garnered ALL the increase in income – and then some,” said Price, an economist at the Keystone Research Center.

In the post-WW II period until 1979, whenever the economy expanded, the bottom 99 percent of Pennsylvania earners captured most of income growth.  Since 1979, in four economic recoveries, Pennsylvania’s bottom 99 percent have captured just 39 percent of income growth.

In the current economic expansion, which began in 2009, real incomes have increased 3.7% in Pennsylvania.  In that period, the income of the top 1 percent of earners increased 28.6%. In contrast, over the same period the bottom 99 percent of earners in Pennsylvania saw their incomes fall 1.1%. Because the income of the bottom 99 percent in Pennsylvania fell, the top 1 percent accounted for more than 100% of overall income growth in the commonwealth.

“Every state and every region in the United States is going to have to grapple with the effects of rising inequality,” said Sommeiller, a researcher at the Institute for Research in Economic and Social Sciences in Greater Paris, France. “Our expanded findings for Pennsylvania paint a picture of the top 1 percent thriving in every county in Pennsylvania, but not the 99 percent: No county has escaped the troubling growth of inequality.”

Price said, “Policymakers need to acknowledge and to address the deeply rooted growth of economic inequality, which threatens core values including that hard work should be rewarded and opportunity widespread. The Marie Antoinette ‘let them eat cake’ approach to inequality won’t cut it anymore: Pennsylvania workers and families need jobs that pay and that will lift up their incomes.”

Read the full EARN report at http://www.epi.org/publication/income-inequality-by-state-1917-to-2012/  and read a KRC brief summarizing the Pennsylvania findings at http://keystoneresearch.org/increasingly_unequal2015

The Keystone Research Center is an independent, nonpartisan research organization that promotes a more prosperous and equitable Pennsylvania and U.S. economy. Learn more at http://keystoneresearch.org.