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Stagnant income, except at the top

Thursday, Sep 18, 2014 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Issues

The median household income for Illinois in 2013 was $56, 210—the same as it was in 2008, the year that the U.S. financial collapse began. Illinois’ median household income is slightly higher than the national of almost $52,000, which has stayed relatively flat over the same time period. Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, crunched the state numbers into this handy map for state comparisons. Meanwhile, the average income for the state’s top 5 percent of earners is $363,159. That number has increased by 6.4 percent since 2008.

According to Pew’s analysis, most of Illinois’ neighboring states saw an increase in median income. The exceptions were Indiana, which had a .9 percent decrease, Wisconsin, which had a 1.2 percent decrease and Michigan, which had a .7 percent decrease. However, the average household income for the top five percent of earners went up in all three states.


  1. - Ducky LaMoore - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    When unearned income, capital gains, and dividend income top out at 15% and earned income tops out at 39%, it is not hard to see why the top 5% gradually move up while everyone else stays about the same. Basically, we sacrifice our national debt to make sure the value of land and stocks keep rising.

  2. - Roadiepig - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 2:08 pm:

    Hum- Indian Michigan and Wisconsin all have decreased median income but their wealthiest 5% all saw gains. Wonder what all there of these states have in common in both leadership and labor issues .


  3. - walker - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    So the Illinois middle class is not doing better overall, just better than Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan. Interesting.

  4. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 2:31 pm:

    Long-term, national structural problem. Increases in productivity are being punished, not rewarded.

    Stagnant wage growth is an albatross around the neck of a consumer-driven economy.

    From a report of the Economic Policy Institute:

    –According to every major data source, the vast majority of U.S. workers—including white-collar and blue-collar workers and those with and without a college degree—have endured more than a decade of wage stagnation. Wage growth has significantly underperformed productivity growth regardless of occupation, gender, race/ethnicity, or education level.–

    –The weak wage growth over 2000–2007, combined with the wage losses for most workers from 2007 to 2012, mean that between 2000 and 2012, wages were flat or declined for the entire bottom 60 percent of the wage distribution (despite productivity growing by nearly 25 percent over this period). –

    –This lost decade for wages comes on the heels of decades of inadequate wage growth. For virtually the entire period since 1979 (with the one exception being the strong wage growth of the late 1990s), wage growth for most workers has been weak. The median worker saw an increase of just 5.0 percent between 1979 and 2012, despite productivity growth of 74.5 percent—while the 20th percentile worker saw wage erosion of 0.4 percent and the 80th percentile worker saw wage growth of just 17.5 percent.–

  5. - Ghost - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    I have been beating this drum for a while :)

    Arguing for minimium wage decreases or even status quo, pushing minimium wage jobs as good because its work; trolling for buisness that only pays min wage etc are all bad things.

    The economy is growing but the money it not trickling down. many in our society stand up and argue that we are unfair to the wealthy; stop buying food and medicine for poor people and robbing the pocmkets of the extremely wealthy.

    MWe face an assualt from the wealthy who claim they can not afford retirment plans, medical care or decent wages for their employees; all the while the income of the people at the top rises! The top 5 ceo’s inc went up an average of 40% during the economic collapse.

    here is a dirty little truth, we have enough money to pay middle class level wages, provide food and health care; but the ultra wealthy would just have to get by with extreme wealth.

    We can fully fund socail security; remove the income cap and tax 100% of all income and bonuses a person earns.

    Also we tax investment income at half the rate of middle class earned income because its supposed to trickle down…. its not trickling donw, it is trickling up.

    Reduce the income tax for all to 15%, or tax all income from whatever source at 39% etc.

    This would solve the Federal debt problems.

    The welathy in illinois claim a graduated income tax is unfair, while paying a smaller percentage then people in the dyeing middle class.

    The sterotype of lazy people who dont want to work and love to be poor needs to be tossed away for the robber barons who dont want to pay decent wages so they can amass more wealth.

  6. - Roadiepig - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 2:40 pm:

    Ghost- spot on!

  7. - truthteller - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    Bruce Rauner is not satisfied with the stagnant incomes we have in Illinois. He wants to model the Land of Lincoln after Wisconsin and Indiana where median incomes are falling.
    Just because things are bad doesn’t mean they can’t get worse .

  8. - Nonplussed - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    Ghost: Jude Wanniski in 1976 proposed his “Two Santa Claus Theory” which–and I will cut to the chase–that the GOP could win elections by offering to cut taxes but not suggest cutting spending.

    But Dems insulated themselves from this attack with policies like the earned income tax credit so that effectively the bottom 40% of earners pay no income taxes. So a tax cut wouldn’t do anything for them. Hence the GOP is not Santa Claus to them when they suggest tax cuts.

    Of course here in Illinois, you have Rauner suggesting the tax cut argument but also the anti-Santa cost cutting and raising spending arguments. Hence he is behind in the polls

  9. - Anon - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 3:14 pm:

    Rauner claims he wants to shake things up in Illinois. Does anyone really believe he wants to stop this trend of the rich getting richer while everyone else stagnates or declines?

  10. - A Jack - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 3:26 pm:

    The Quinn people need to figure out to put this in an ad with Rauner idolizing Scott Walker.

  11. - Anon - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    Rauner holds up the Dairy State as a model for the Land of Lincoln. That means worse times for the median income here.

  12. - Norseman - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    Faux Rauner press release: Quit your complaining. At least you have a job!

  13. - my two cents - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 3:32 pm:

    Rauner admires Gov. Walker, Snyder and Pence. He also admires Gov Scott and Christie. Doesn’t that say it all?

  14. - truthteller - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 3:36 pm:

    NJ is one of three states where the percentage of the population living in poverty went up last year. No wonder Christie is one of Rauner’s idols.

  15. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 3:41 pm:

    Rich get richer.

    And income inequality grows.

  16. - Norseman - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    Faux Rauner campaign meeting. “Dang, this income thing is not helping our Walker is God narrative.

  17. - Del Clinkton - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 4:24 pm:

    Just proves that Teachers Unions are NOT the problem, despite what Bruce says.

  18. - A guy... - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 4:27 pm:

    Hey Del, I bet there’s a thread somewhere around here where that comment might be in context.

  19. - PublicServant - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 4:47 pm:

    Hey A Guy, Del’s comment is absolutely pertinent to this thread. See, teachers are middle class. If, as the GOP line goes, teachers control the politicians, then we’d have a progressive income tax, and SB1 wouldn’t be law. So much for that fantasy, huh?

  20. - PolPal56 - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 4:52 pm:

    Teachers unions are holding the line for a segment of the middle class, as are many unions.

  21. - Bulldog58 - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 5:02 pm:

    This is an interesting piece. While Illinois wages have stagnated I find it telling that Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin (the 3 states with Koch backed Governors) saw median household income decrease. Foreshadowing of a Rauner administration…he’s already promised it. Cut or eliminate minimum wage, force ALL union backed public employees to take a wage cut, enact right to work laws to further erode the middle classes earning power…oh yeah, pass tax cuts for himself and all of his rich buddies…

  22. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 5:07 pm:

    =Also we tax investment income at half the rate of middle class earned income because its supposed to trickle down…. its not trickling donw, it is trickling up.=

    One great way to accomplish that, Ghost…why don’t YOU and your friends scrimp and save to invest in a business, work hours that make your typical party hack look like a slacker, then refuse to take profits so that you can distribute all the income to your workers, who have put NO skin in the game, have taken NO risk in investing in a business and can walk away if they get tired of the work and get a new job without losing their life’s savings?Interested, or are you just a greedy SOB that wants a share he didn’t earn from the sacrifices of SOMEONE ELSE? I thought so…

    =here is a dirty little truth, we have enough money to pay middle class level wages, provide food and health care; but the ultra wealthy would just have to get by with extreme wealth.=

    What do you mean “we” have enough? I’m sure you have more than many poor folks out there. How much in taxes do YOU pay to the state, federal and local governments beyond what you’re legally obligated to do by law to pay for the “food, healthcare, and middle class wages for less than middle class skills”, and don’t forget the “corruption tax” each level of government takes from the poor to serve themselves? What, you don’t give extra taxes every year? I didn’t think so. You just want OTHERS to pay for things you want. No honor there…

    =The welathy in illinois claim a graduated income tax is unfair, while paying a smaller percentage then people in the dyeing middle class=

    Actually about half Illinoisans don’t pay any income tax, Ghost, so exactly how are these middle class people paying a lower rate than the “rich”? They DON’T. The great equalizer in flat rate income taxes is the personal exemptions for yourself and family, as well as education and real estate credits. These deductions and exemptions make far less difference to the “rich than middle class taxpayers. What is YOUR effective state tax rate on all income,Ghost? My guess is that’s it’s FAR below 5% like the “wealthy” pay.

    BTW, I’m all for the graduated income tax at the state level. On my Illinois income, I pay a flat 5% after the Quinn ripoff tax increase. On my Arizona income, my GRADUATED tax rate on the last dollar earned is only 4.9% and my real estate tax bill, in an area near Scottsdale that is as good as most suburban Chicago school districts, is only about 40% of what I’d be paying on the same value home in Suburban Cook. The difference? No rapacious school unions that demand a “fair” wage of $120K for 178 work days for gym teachers like they do in illinois…

    Taxpayers of Illinois revolt! All you have to lose is your chains..

    Her endeth the rant…..

  23. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 5:10 pm:

    –Her endeth the rant…..–

    Good for her.

  24. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Sep 18, 14 @ 5:43 pm:


    =Her endeth the rant…..–

    Good for her.=

    That’s my wife you’re talking about!LOL Time to go out and take a dip in the 75 degree pool water in that BEAUTIFUL palm tree lined, mountain view back yard. Oh, I think I’ll go pick a few lemons off the tree for you Illinois sourpusses!

  25. - Overtaxes - Friday, Sep 19, 14 @ 9:14 am:

    Of course the median income folks of Illinois got a tax increase making their net paychecks smaller but after all, gotta take care of the elite on public pensions

  26. - PublicServant - Friday, Sep 19, 14 @ 9:17 am:

    If you think those on public pensions are elite, dude, what does that make Rauner and his fellow plutocrats?

  27. - Anon - Friday, Sep 19, 14 @ 9:27 am:

    AZ Bob == about half of Illinois pay no income tax ==

    Let’s not confuse the federal income tax with the IL income tax. The latter taxes the working poor.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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