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The Top 1%: Executives, Doctors and Bankers

The “99-percenters” protesting at Occupy Wall Street should think about occupying the C-suites across America as well, at least if their primary complaint is about income inequality.

That is one implication of this fascinating paperon the occupations of the top 1 percent of Americans, which I came across via Mike Konczal. The paper is by Jon Bakija of Williams College, Adam Cole of the Treasury Department and Bradley T. Heim of Indiana University, and is based on tax data from 2005 (so, before the financial crisis).

It finds that about a third of Americans in that top percentile were executives, managers and supervisors who work outside of finance. The next biggest share, at 15.7 percent, went to medical professionals, followed by those in financial services with 13.9 percent.

The share of 1-percenters who work in finance has been rising, as you can see. In 1979, the earliest year analyzed, just 7.7 percent of those at the top percentile worked in finance, about half the share in 2005.

As we’ve writtenmany times over, the total share of income going to the top 1 percent has increased in recent decades. In 2005, the top 1 percent of earners received 16.97 percent of total income distributed to all households across the United States.

The C-suiters accounted for about a third of that chunk received by the top percentile. Put another way, the nonfinance executives, managers and supervisors at the very top of the income distribution received 6.35 percent of all income received by all Americans in 2005.

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