Report: Richest Coloradans snag all income growth since recession’s end

January 26, 2015

Though the Great Recession hurt everyone's pocketbooks, new research says the ensuing recovery has largely benefited the top 1 percent of earners in Colorado.

In fact, Colorado was one of 17 states where all income growth from 2009 to 2012 went to the top 1 percent. That's according to new research published Monday from the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that focuses on low- and middle-income American households.

Using state-level IRS tax data, researchers Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price, both Ph.D-holding economists, found that overall income in Colorado grew more than 6 percent between 2009 and 2012. But that growth was uneven: the top 1 percent of earners in the state saw their income rise by 48.4 percent. The bottom 99 percent, on the other hand, saw their income fall by 1 percent.

"This study provides further confirmation that the state's economic recovery has been lopsided at best," Claire Levy, executive director of the Colorado Center on Law & Policy, said in a statement. "As the economy improved, only the very wealthiest Coloradans enjoyed substantial income gains while the vast majority of Colorado workers and their families - those who fuel economic growth across the state - saw little, if any, gains." 

The average income for an earner in the top 1 percent in 2012 was $1,347,381; for the bottom 99 percent that figure was $50,367.

This map shows how Colorado stacks up to the rest of the country. Darker colors indicate a higher share of income growth by the top 1 percent. (Overall income declined in Nevada, and not all data is available for Wyoming.)

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