What About the Rest of Us? Top 1% Takes Home All the Increase in Pennsylvania Income in Current Economic Recovery

Estelle Sommeiller
Publication Date: 
January 26, 2015

Read the press release

Executive Summary

Our national report released today by the Economic Analysis Research Network (EARN) and the Economic Policy Institute presents updated estimates of top incomes from 1917 to 2012 for all 50 U.S. states and multi-state regions. (See the national report at http://goo.gl/AnFnMt). This brief expands on the Pennsylvania findings of the national report and presents updates by county and metropolitan area on trends in the share of income earned by the top 1 percent in 1978 and 2012.

  • Between 2009 and 2012, adjusted for inflation, average incomes increased 3.7% in Pennsylvania.  All of the overall income growth was driven by an increase of 28.6% in the income of the top 1 percent of earners. Over the same period the bottom 99 percent of earners in Pennsylvania saw their real incomes decline 1.1%.  Because the income of the bottom 99 percent fell, the top 1 percent accounted for more than 100% of overall income growth (124.4% to be precise). 
  • The current expansion through 2012 is the worst on record measured by the inequality of income growth skewed towards the top 1 percent of Pennsylvania earners. It also continues the pattern of increasingly unequal income growth evident in economic expansions since the early 1980s. On average over the last four economic expansions the top 1 percent of earners in Pennsylvania have received 61% of overall income growth.  This stands in stark contrast to the six economic expansions between 1949 and 1979 a period in which the top 1 percent of Pennsylvania earners received just 7.1% of overall income growth.
  • The top 1 percent’s share of all income has climbed steadily from 8.6% in 1978 to 19.8% today.  Within Pennsylvania, the top 1 percent’s share of income has increase in every county and metropolitan areas of Pennsylvania.
    • The 10 counties with the highest top 1 percent share of all income in 2012 were: Potter (26.1%), Allegheny (23.1%), Montgomery (23.0%), Delaware (21.3%), Chester (20.6%), Erie (19.5%), Philadelphia (19.5%), Warren( 18.9%), Berks (17.7%), and Washington (17.4%).
    • The 10 counties with the lowest top 1 percent share of all income in 2012 were: Cameron (11.6%), Columbia (11.4%), Mifflin (11.4%), Bedford (11.2%), Monroe (10.8%), Snyder (10.7%), Carbon (10.2%), Juniata (9.3%), Fulton (9.1%), and Perry (8.5%).

Read the full briefing paper

Read the national report

Pennsylvania fact sheets

Download County and Metropolitan Area Data for Pennsylvania (pdf/xlsx)

Download Figure 1 (pdf/png)

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