Wisconsin’s Top Earners See Faster Income Growth Than Lower Brackets

Since 1979, Top 1 Percent's Income Doubles, While 99 Percent's Drops


Wisconsin’s top wage earners have seen their income soar over the last thirty years while everyone else’s dipped slightly. Still, the state’s “income gap” isn’t as large as the nation’s.

It takes a yearly salary of $283,000 to get into Wisconsin’s top one-percent of wage earners. That’s one finding from a study by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, which analyzed tax data.

John Peacock, however, says some top earners make a lot more than that: he says the average yearly income for those in the top one percent is $783,000. Peacock directs the Wisconsin Budget Project at the Council on Children and Families. He says the numbers show not everyone is sharing in prosperity.

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“Over the last three decades the income of the top one percent of Wisconsinites has more than doubled,” Peacock said, “yet the average income for the rest of us has declined slightly.”

Peacock says income for the other 99 percent has dropped by 0.4 percent since 1979. He says 18 percent of the state’s children live in poverty.

About three thousand people make up Wisconsin’s top-earning one percent.

“We’re not opposed to some people making a whole lot of money,” Peacock said, “We’d just like to see a lot more people have an improved opportunity for climbing the economic ladder, and we think it hurts the state’s economy when so many people are struggling.”

The Wisconsin Budget Project advocates for a higher minimum wage. Peacock also opposes a plan that would change the state’s alternative minimum tax that he says would benefit the very rich.