New Report: Economic Growth Bypasses Bay State's "99 Percent"
BOSTON – People whose incomes are in the bottom 99 percent of Commonwealth residents are falling way behind the top 1 percent, according to a new report by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.
Noah Berger, the center’s president, says the organization crunched new data on Massachusetts from the Economic Policy Institute that finds a growing income gap for most wage earners compared to the top 1 percent.
"One way to think about it is, since the recession, about 82 percent of all income growth has gone to the highest-income 1 percent of the population,” he states “Those folks' incomes have grown about 30 percent over that time period. Everybody else's have been basically flat, growing at 1.6 percent."
Berger says if incomes of the lower 99 percent and the top 1 percent had grown at the same rate between 1979 and 2013, the average median income would have reached just over $85,000. But as a result of the gap, he says the median average Bay State income was $63,000 dollars by 2013.
Berger points out his organization's analysis shows there are steps that can be taken to help the middle class keep pace.
"In Massachusetts, there are some specific things we could do,” he says. “One is raising the minimum wage. That would help low-income and some middle-income households – where you may have one parent working at $40,000 a year and another at a minimum-wage job at $20,000 a year – would be directly helped by that kind of policy."
The report also notes that people in the top 1 percent pay a smaller share of their income in state and local taxes than the bottom 99 percent in Massachusetts.