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N.Y. families' income has fallen since recession start

Rochester Business Journal
November 15, 2012

Income for New York families has declined 5.7 percent since the beginning of the 2008 recession, whose recovery is the weakest on record since the 1930s, a Fiscal Policy Institute report released Thursday shows.

The share of total income going to the top 1 percent of wage earnings in New York increased from 10 percent in 1980—roughly matching the national average—to 17 percent in 1990, 28 percent in 2000 and 35 percent in 2007 before the recession hit, the report says.

Median family incomes nationwide have dropped 7.2 percent, with New York City incomes falling 8 percent, the report states.

The declines are due in part to continued high unemployment, weak or non-existent wage gains, and a concentration of job growth in low-wage industries, the report states.

The current recovery, beginning in mid-2009, has resulted in annual average growth of 2.2 percent in gross domestic product, the report states. That compares with a 4 percent average in the seven previous recoveries.

The share of total income going to the top 1 percent nationally rose from 10 percent in 1980 to 24 percent in 2007, the report states. The share of New York City income rose from 12 percent in 1980 to 44 percent in 2007.

Average pay for those in the top 5 percent of household incomes in New York State increased 16 percent to $337,000 annually in the mid-2000s from $290,000 in the late 1990s, the report states.

Incomes for those in the middle quintile increased 3 percent to $63,000 from $61,100, it says. Those in the bottom quintile saw no increase, with annual wages stagnant at $19,500.

The report lists eight changes in policy that could reverse the wage disparity. They include raising the minimum wage, strengthening enforcement of labor laws, increasing membership in labor unions, investing in economic recovery and growth, ensuring that small businesses with good credit can borrow and implementing fairer tax policies.

The Fiscal Policy Institute describes itself as an Albany-based independent, non-partisan research and education organization formed in 1991 to help create a strong economy in which prosperity is shared.

(c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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