After two years of declines, Americans' income finally rose in 2010. The Internal Revenue Service provided a first peek at taxpayers' returns and it showed that adjusted gross income totaled $8 trillion, up 5.2% from 2009.
But a closer look at the data reveals that only the wealthiest Americans will be popping the Cristal.
Middle-class Americans? Not so fortunate. Those making between $50K and $100K saw their incomes creep up only 1.5%.
Part of the imbalance comes from differences in the growth of wages, the largest component of adjusted gross income.
Overall, salaries and wages grew 2.1%. But the super-rich saw an 11.2% hike, and those just below them enjoyed a 4.6% increase.
But the middle class saw a drop of 0.7% in wages.
And while capital gains rose healthily for most income brackets, the wealthiest taxpayers benefited from a 37.6% hike, and those in the bracket below pocketed 32% more. Middle-income folks saw only a 19.8% increase.
Looking at it another way, the Top 1% of taxpayers captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of the economy recovery, according to Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at University of California, Berkeley. The Top 1% had incomes above $352,000 in 2010.
And their dominance is expected to continue since corporate profits and dividends -- sources of income for the rich -- grew strongly last year, while wages increased only modestly.
"It is likely that this uneven recovery has continued into 2011 as the stock market has continued to recover," Saez said.
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