Newly released census figures show the recession has hit middle-income and poor families the hardest.
The economic gap between the richest and poorest Americans has gotten wider as rippling job layoffs ravaged household budgets.
The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans, those making more than $138,000 each year, earned 11.4 times what those living near or below the poverty line made in 2008. That ratio was an increase from 11.2 in 2007 and the previous high of 11.22 in 2003.
Household income declined across all groups, but at sharper percentage levels for middle-income and poor Americans. Poverty jumped sharply to an 11-year high.
Analysts attribute the widening gap to the wave of layoffs in the economic downturn that have devastated household budgets. They say while the richest Americans may be seeing reductions in executive pay, those at the bottom of the income ladder are often unemployed and struggling to get by.