The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, goes an old proverb. Now comes an anaysis of IRS data that seems to confirm it.
While the financial meltdown of 2008 dealt a big setback for both rich and poor, those on the bottom rungs of the income ladder were set back further, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The economic expansion from 2002 through 2007 helped boost most everyone's paychecks. But the top one percent, whose incomes rose nearly two-thirds, did a lot better than the bottom 90 percent, whose incomes were up just 4 percent. The Panic of 2008 sharply reversed that trend - clipping 20 percent off the earnings of the 1 percent richest while shaving 7 percent off the income for the bottom 90 percent. But even after the market meltdown, the top one percent was earning 30 percent more than in 2002 - while the bottom 90 percent lost ground by 4 percent.
Over the longer term, the average pre-tax income for the bottom 90 percent is $900 lower than it was in 1979, according to the CBPP. That compares with gains of more than $700,000 during the same period for the upper one percent crust.
The richest of the rich - the top .01 percent - also took a big hit during the 2008 meltdown - which clipped their income by 25 percent. But that still left them 68 percent ahead of where they were in 2002.
Big losses in 2008 at the top of the money pile helped narrow the so-called "wealth gap" - but only slightly. That means the share of income flowing to the top one percent is still higher than it's been since 1929.
As another proverb goes: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
For more graphs on the wealth gap, check out the full report.