Percent Change Percent Change Average annual wages (2018 dollars) ?Long-term Great Recession Wage group 1979 2007 2009 2016 2017 2018 1979–2007 1979-2018 2007-09 2009-18 2016–18 2007-18 Bottom 90% $30,330 $35,384 $35,169 $36,711 $37,064 $37,574 16.7% 23.9% -0.6% 6.8% 2.3% 6.2% Top 90th to 99th $99,204 $144,170 $143,795 $155,270 $156,192 $158,002 45.3% 59.3% -0.3% 9.9% 1.8% 9.6% 90%-95% $84,123 $112,780 $113,836 $120,689 $121,286 $122,595 34.1% 45.7% 0.9% 7.7% 1.6% 8.7% 95%-99% $118,054 $183,407 $181,245 $198,497 $199,826 $202,261 55.4% 71.3% -1.2% 11.6% 1.9% 10.3% Upper 5% $151,672 $293,332 $268,702 $300,765 $307,118 $309,348 93.4% 104.0% -8.4% 15.1% 2.9% 5.5% Upper 1% $286,145 $733,029 $618,529 $709,840 $736,287 $737,697 156.2% 157.8% -15.6% 19.3% 3.9% 0.6% 99.0%–99.9% $247,141 $487,056 $445,434 $498,252 $504,312 $507,652 97.1% 105.4% -8.5% 14.0% 1.9% 4.2% 99.9% -100% $637,180 $2,946,791 $2,176,388 $2,614,124 $2,824,069 $2,808,104 362.5% 340.7% -26.1% 29.0% 7.4% -4.7% Average $39,091 $52,151 $50,779 $54,113 $54,778 $55,412 33.4% 41.8% -2.6% 9.1% 2.4% 6.3%

Source: EPI analysis of Kopczuk, Saez and Song (2010) and Social Security Administration wage statistics

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These disparities in wage growth reflect a major change in the distribution of wages since 1979. The bottom 90% earned 69.8% of all earnings in 1979 but only 61.0% in 2018. In contrast the top 1.0% increased its share of earnings from 7.3% in 1979 to 13.3% in 2018, a near-doubling. The growth of wages for the top 0.1% is the major dynamic driving the top 1.0% earnings as the top 0.1% more than tripled its earnings share from 1.6% in 1979 to 5.1% in 2018.

Table 2

Change in wage groups’ shares of total wages, 1979–2018

Share of wages Long-term change Great Recession
Wage group 1979 2007 2009 2016 2017 2018 1979–2007 1979–2018 2007–2009 2009–2018 2016–2018 2007–2018
Bottom 90% 69.8% 61.1% 62.3% 61.1% 60.9% 61.0% -8.8 -8.8 1.3 -1.3 0.0 0.0
Top 90th to 99th 22.8% 24.9% 25.5% 25.8% 25.7% 25.7% 2.0 2.8 0.6 0.2 -0.2 0.8
90% – 95% 10.8 10.8 11.2 11.2 11.1 11.1 0.1 0.3 0.4 -0.1 -0.1 0.2
95% – 99% 12.1 14.1 14.3 14.7 14.6 14.6 2.0 2.5 0.2 0.3 -0.1 0.5
Upper 5% 19.4% 28.1% 26.5% 27.8% 28.0% 27.9% 8.7 8.5 -1.7 1.5 0.1 -0.2
Upper 1% 7.3% 14.1% 12.2% 13.1% 13.4% 13.3% 6.7 6.0 -1.9 1.1 0.2 -0.7
99.0%–99.9% 5.7 8.4 7.9 8.3 8.3 8.2 2.7 2.6 -0.5 0.4 0.0 -0.2
99.9% – 100% 1.6 5.7 4.3 4.8 5.2 5.1 4.0 3.4 -1.4 0.8 0.2 -0.6

Source: EPI analysis of Kopczuk, Saez and Song (2010) and Social Security Administration wage statistics

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