From 1970 to 2018, the share of aggregate income going to middle-class households fell from 62% to 43%. Over the same period, the share held by upper-income households increased from 29% to 48%. The share flowing to lower-income households inched down from 10% in 1970 to 9% in 2018.


Income inequality has fluctuated considerably since measurements began around 1915, declining between peaks in the 1920s and 2007 (CBO data) or 2012 (Piketty, Saez, Zucman data). Inequality steadily increased from around 1979 to 2007, with a small reduction through 2016, followed by an increase from 2016 to 2018

.Income inequality varies by social factors such as sexual identity, gender identity, age, and race or ethnicity, leading to a wider gap between the upper and working class.


The Fed’s policies have helped generate jobs and reduce unemployment, which was their goal. In the process, however, the Fed has accelerated the decades-long increase in economic inequality by helping increase the wealth of people at the top far more than it has increased the wealth of working-class Americans.