Actually, income inequality might be declining

The larger question is “how much does it matter”? I doubt Occupy Wall Street will be assuaged by learning that the top 0.1% now only receive 8% of the income earned in the US, even if that number is the lowest it’s been since 1997.

But I think it does matter. If we think there’s a real problem, we need the best possible data so that we can understand its contours. Income inequality has been rising for so long that people have started to assume that it has just kept rising, even when the data show otherwise. We don’t want to spend years focused on income inequality, only to learn that the financial crisis fixed it for us.