Chart of the Day

Occupy Wall Street's Birthday, in One Chart

On Occupy Wall Street's one-year anniversary, our chart of the day shows corporate profits at record highs, and worker income share at tumbling lows.

09.17.12 7:13 PM ET

Occupy Wall Street turns one today. And though the encampment didn't always get its facts straight, its grievances did stem from some real economic trends. For Business Beast's first "Chart of the Day," we've set two of them side-by-side: the steady rise of corporate profits, and the decline in labor's share of business income, since 1980.

In the past three decades, improved technology has displaced scores of flesh-and-blood workers, and managers have grown better at siphoning off larger and larger portions of corporate returns. Over the course of the sputtering 2009–2012 recovery, a historically small share of these profits have been reinvested in capital purchases or labor compensation: American businesses are curerntly sitting on trillions in cash, while real median wages are stagnant. Though not shown in the chart above, manager and CEO compensation have both risen markedly since 1980.