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One-Third Of 1 Percenters Fell Back Into 99 Percent During Recession, Report Finds

One Percent

First Posted: 11/17/11 03:39 PM ET Updated: 11/17/11 05:53 PM ET

Getting a spot in the elite one percent club by no means secures your place there.

A sizable minority of those in the one percent shifted between 2007 and 2009, according to a recent Federal Reserve report, cited by the Wall Street Journal. A full third of those in the one percent in 2007 had fallen into the 99 percent by 2009, the report finds, with former members of the 99 percent stepping in to fill the void.

The findings indicate that though the one percent may be an easy symbol of income inequality plaguing many Americans, they're by no means a permanent class. Indeed, the past three recessions hit the one percent the hardest as a percentage of total income, according to a separate report in the WSJ. In addition, since recession, a large number of millionaires have fallen back; those Americans making $1 million or more shrunk by 40 percent between 2007 and 2009 alone.

The fluctuation may explain why most one percenters can't keep track of whether they're still in the club. A recent survey of 100 people making more than $350,000 from wealth marketing firm, HNW Inc. found that half of respondents don't think they're in the top percentile of income earners.

Still, it's undoubtedly good to be king in America today. The top one percent of earners saw their incomes jump 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, while the bottom one-fifth of earners only saw a 20 percent boost in income during the same period, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That's good news for some members of Congress, 57 of whom can count themselves as part of the one percent, according to USA Today.

The findings come as Occupy Wall Street celebrates its two month anniversary of protesting income inequality and other topics in cities around the world. The movement claims to represent the 99 percent of ordinary Americans and sets itself up in contrast with the top one percent of earners.

Some prominent one percenters have come out in support of the movement, however. Among them are billionaire George Soros, actor Alec Baldwin, filmmaker Michael Moore and hip hop mogul Russel Simmons.

The slideshow below shows the top 10 occupations of the 1 percent:

10. Business Operations (Nonfinance)
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Percentage of top 1 percent with occupation in 2005: 3 percent
Percentage of top 1 percent with occupation in 1979: 2.4 percent

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Filed by Jillian Berman  |