US data reveals recession hit the richest the hardest

Julian Harris
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THE TOP one per cent of earners in the US saw their pre-tax incomes suffer the most from 2007 to 2009, according to data released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Income before tax plummeted by 36 per cent for the highest one per cent of households by earnings, the CBO said. For the lowest four quintiles – some 80 per cent of the population – incomes, which also include state transfers, fell by five per cent or less.

The top 20 per cent as a whole saw their incomes slide by 18 per cent. The data also showed that the top quintile of households paid 67.9 per cent of federal taxes in 2009, with the poorest quintile paying just 0.3 per cent.

President Barack Obama has raised taxes for high earners, arguing that America’s wealthy citizens must contribute more to helping reduce the government’s mammoth budget deficit, which totals well over $1 trillion a year.

In the first three quarters of the latest US fiscal year, the deficit has reached over $900bn.