NC State Economist Mike Walden -: “Incomes over Time”

Mary:  I’m Mary Walden, with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.   Today’s program looks at incomes over time. Mike, each year the federal government releases data that allow us to track the average income of households.  You just received the latest numbers.  What do they tell us about how the incomes of households on different rungs of the income ladder have changed over the decades?

Mike:  Summary Answer

  1. As might expect, those earning the top incomes have seen biggest gains – up 23% since 1990 after adjusting for inflation, but still under pre-recession level
  2. In contrast, those at the bottom 20% of income ladder have seen an 8% drop in inflation-adjusted income since 1990
  3. Those in the middle income rungs have seen little change – 3% gain since 1990 adjusting for inflation
  4. Numbers reflect what we know has been happening – those at the top of the income ladder – who usually have the highest levels of income – have been doing the best over the long-run
  5. I’m MW

Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.