The number of Americans struggling to afford food is also near record highs. Twenty percent said that they have at times lacked the money to buy the food that they or their families needed during the past year, up from 17.7 percent in June and close to the post-recession peak of 20.4 percent. It’s at the highest level since October 2011.
Those numbers reinforce just how many Americans are struggling to get by. One in seven families faced food insecurity last year. Three out of four Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and a quarter have no savings at all. Wages have fallen by eight cents since the recession, but the problem goes back further, as workers have experienced a “lost decade” in wage growth. Yet the costs of living have grown substantially over the past 20 years.
The wealthy, however, are doing just fine. While top earners took a bit hit during the recession, the top 1 percent saw income increase by 20 percent last year, bringing their earnings close to full recovery while the bottom 99 percent have barely started to recover. In fact, the top 10 percent took home half of all income, the biggest share ever recorded.