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New Report: New York’s Top 1% See All Income Gains Since Recession

The incomes of the top one percent in New York State were nearly 50 times more than the bottom 99 percent in 2012, according to new analysis published this week by the Economic Policy Institute.

The paper was prepared for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), of which The Fiscal Policy Institute is a founding member. Ron Deutsch, FPI's Executive Director, says the top one percent controls literally a third of all the income in New York.    "And that's basically slightly greater than its high point in 2007, right before the financial crash, and its basically the all time peak level in New York. The exception would be in 1929 when it was at 33.8 percent for the top 1 percent, but that was on the eve of the stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression."

Deutsch says what we need right now is for politicians to acknowledge that we need a shared opportunity agenda in New York.   "The governor just unveiled his opportunity agenda for New York last week. I think this report really shines a spotlight on the immediate need for our Albany leaders to get serious about developing a real shared opportunity agenda for New York. The agenda that the governor put forward in his opportunity agenda, I think, is lacking right now, and really does need to focus more on issues of poverty, hunger, homelessness and boosting the incomes of those in the bottom rungs of the economic ladder."

FPI's Deputy Director and Chief Economist James Parrott:   "It's not an exaggeration to say that income polarization is the biggest economic problem that we face in New York State and in the United States. It is simply unsustainable in both an economic sense, and because it is so corrosive of our democratic system."

Parrott believes the state needs to raise the minimum wage, restore funds to schools and education programs, enact policies to turn the tide against rising poverty and make the tax system more progressive.   "We can increase the earned income tax credit, enact a real property tax circuit-breaker to lighten the property tax burden on low and moderate income families, those who are truly burdened by high property taxes, and we need to make permanent the top personal income tax rates, so that the state has the revenue that it needs to make the investments in human capital and physical capital so that our economy can grow and we can see an increased number of jobs."

Data in the new report shows average incomes of the top one percent are 48 times the average income of the bottom 99 percent in New York and Connecticut, making it more lopsided than in any other state.  This, at a time when about 92 million Americans aren't working.

Tom Perkins is the co-founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s first Venture Capital firms. He recently defended the elite during an appearance before the Commonwealth Club of California.   "The top one percent - I got this from the Tax Foundation. These are facts.  The top one percent of taxpayers pay a greater share of th e income tax burden than the bottom 90 percent combined, which totals more than 120 million taxpayers.  In 2010, the top 1 percent of taxpayers, which totals roughly 1.4 million taxpayers, paid about 37 percent of all income taxes. A big jump from 1985 when the top 1 percent paid a quarter of all income taxes."
FPI says economic inequality is, at long last, commanding attention from policymakers, the media, and everyday citizens. There is growing recognition that the state and country need an inclusive economy that works for everyone—not just for those at the top.

Feel free to add your comments / observations below!

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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