There are some very important numbers in this post from AlterNet.org.
This really illustrates, historically speaking, how disparate income distribution is now compared to past years.
Entire article is worth a read; here is a brief excerpt along with the link to the full version:
Contained in that simple message is an implied demand, whether or not people recognize it: undoing several decades of increasing inequality in this country.
Economists Thomas Picketty and Emanuel Saez sliced and diced America’s income going all the way back to 1913, and their results tell us exactly what the Occupy Wall Street movement is about, at least in broad terms.
Choose a year from some fondly remembered past when the American economy generated broadly shared prosperity. How about 1947? That year, the top 1 percent of U.S. households grabbed a bit less than 12 percent of the nation’s pre-tax income, and the other 99 percent shared around 88 percent of the take. It wasn’t a perfect time, but it was an era when a large middle-class was emerging.
Or maybe you think 1967 was a great time to be an American worker. That year, the top 1 percent grabbed 10.7 percent of the pile, and the other 99 percent divvied up around 89 percent of our income.
Between 1949 and 1979, those at the top never took in more than 12.8 percent of the total. When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, they grabbed 10 percent of our economic output, and the rest of us shared 90 percent. And that’s when things started to shift, relatively rapidly. In Reagan’s final year in office, the top 1 percent of American households grabbed 15.5 percent of the nation’s income.
By the time George W. Bush was elected, they were taking in 21.5 percent. And in 2007, the year before the crash, they were pulling in 23.5 percent of our pre-tax income, leaving the other 99 percent to share just 76.5 percent of the fruits of our output.