From Gotham Gazette:
In New York City in 1980, the share of all incomes going to the top 1 percent was 12 percent -- more or less in line with the rest of the U.S. But by 1990 the top 1 percent's share in New York City had risen to almost 20 percent, and after a period of extreme concentration in the late 1990s reached nearly 35 percent in 2000. The 2001-2003 recession briefly pushed the top share down, but then it gained at its fastest pace over the past 30 years, climbing to 44 percent in 2007, almost double the historically high national level of 23.5 percent.
New York State is the most polarized among the 50 states, and New York City is the most polarized among the 25 largest cities in the United States.
Today, most experts expect the pace of the nascent recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-09 to remain subdued in large part because of high household debt burdens, stagnant or declining wages, and a bleak job outlook. The recession was triggered by the bursting of the housing bubble and a speculative, excess-prone financial system, but it occurred in an economy with an increasingly shaky foundation characterized by weak job growth, continued export of middle-income jobs and wage growth that failed to keep pace with inflation and the growth in the productivity of labor.
This shaky foundation has a lot to do with the post-1980 hyper-concentration of income. The expansion from 2004 to 2007 was the first in which family incomes and median wages adjusted for inflation did not rise over the cycle to reach the peak of the previous business cycle. Despite economic growth, many Americans never saw their income return to the levels they had reached in 2000. Faced with this, families turned to debt, using credit cards and home equity borrowing to sustain their living standards. The crash of the financial and housing bubbles destroyed trillions of dollars in retirement and college savings that had been accumulated by middle- and low-income Americans, and decimated the value of their homes.
Rebuilding that wealth and economic security and restoring a sense of optimism for the next generation will be doubly difficult given the current polarized system of economic rewards and the bleak outlook for job and economic growth. The broadly shared prosperity that prevailed in the three decades after World War II is a distant memory. Are we destined to grow further apart?