Income gap worsens for people in prime earning years, study says

Income inequality is growing for those in their prime earning years, according to a new study. The top 5% highest-earning households take in more than $318,000 a year.
(Bankrate / U.S. Current Population Survey)

The nation’s income gap increased 10% over the past 20 years, and roughly twice that rate for people in their prime earning years, according to a new study.

The income gap swelled 21% for those between the ages of 35 to 44, and 17.6% for people aged 45 to 54, according to the analysis by financial website The study analyzed the period from 1992 to 2012.

The study is the latest to highlight rising income inequality, and is troubling because it shows the dichotomy worsening for people in their key earnings years.


“The prime earning years for most people -- when they’re in their 30s and 40s -- are also the most important when it comes to setting up a future position on the wealth spectrum,” according to the study. “While some are quickly advancing toward becoming rich, others are just as quickly falling behind.”

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According to the study, the income gap is widest among people 65 and older, although it grew only 3%, the slowest rate for any age group over the last 20 years.

Citing data from the Census Bureau, the bottom fifth of U.S. households earn an annual average of $11,490, the study said.

The next fifth take in $29,696. The middle tier earns $51,179 and the next group takes home $82,098. The top fifth earns $181,905, and the top 5% earns $318,052.


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