So I recently saw some hard stats on what people have been saying for a while: real income after accounting for inflation has declined significantly since the 1970's. Add to that education debts, reduced employer pension provisions etc, and the picture for 20 and 30 something workers in the US looks pretty crappy... but hey, if you even went to college you're doing pretty well in the scheme of things : the bottom twenty percent of families are still mostly making net incomes of between 10 and 20 thousand dollars a year (depending on which state they are in).
And of course the gap between the top 5% and that bottom 20% is ever increasing...
By the early 2000s, the average income of the top 20 percent of families in 32 states was at least 6.4 times higher than that of low-income families. That's a big change since the early 1980s, when no state had a "top to bottom" ratio exceeding 6.4. When the authors looked at the incomes of the top 5 percent of households in 11 large states, they found sharp disparities.
The top 5 percent of families saw their incomes rise as much as 132 percent between 1980 and 2003. The bottom 20 percent of families, meanwhile, saw their incomes rise by no more than 24 percent. In dollars and cents, average incomes of those in the top 5 percent rose between $80,400 to over $153,000. Increases for the bottom 20 percent in those 11 states, meanwhile, didn't exceed $4,000. Since the early 1980s, the gap between high-income and middle-income households also rose.
The report noted that the top 20 percent of households had incomes more than 2.3 times greater than that of middle-income households in 36 states by the early 2000s. Again, that's a huge difference compared with the early '80s, when that was the case in only one state.