Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Who Are The 1%?

with 2 comments

Ezra Klein reports.

Taken literally, the top 1 percent of American households had a minimum income of $516,633 in 2010 — a figure that includes wages, government transfers and money from capital gains, dividends and other investment income.

That number is down from peak of $646,195 in 2007, before the economic crisis hit, all adjusted to 2011 dollars, according to calculations by the Tax Policy Center. By contrast, the bottom 60 percent earned a maximum of $59,154 in 2010, the bottom 40 percent earned a max of $33,870, while the bottom 20 percent earned just $16,961 at maximum. As Annie Lowrey points out, that gap has grown wider over time: “The top 1 percent of households took a bigger share of overall income in 2007 than they did at any time since 1928.” (And in New York City, it’s even more skewed: the top 1 percent have an average of $3.7 million in income.)

When you look at the disparity in net worth, things look even more skewed. Wealthier Americans have assets — in home equity, stocks and other investments — that generally outstrip their cash income. Average wealth of the top 1 percent was almost $14 million in 2009, according to a 2011 report from the Economic Policy Institute. That’s down from a peak of $19.2 million in 2007.

By contrast, the poorest households were experiencing declines in net worth even before the recession hit. In 2007, the bottom 20 percent of households had an average (negative!) net worth of –$13,800 in 2007, which fell further to –$27,200 in 2009. Altogether, “average wealth of the bottom 80 percent was just $62,900 in 2009 — a dropoff of $40,900 from 2007,” EPI writes. That means the wealthiest 1 percent held an average of 225 times the wealth of the average median household in 2009 — a ratio that was 125 in 1962.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I guess 99% has a better ring to it than 99.9%. Because I doubt there are any guys making half a million a year who are sitting in a city park in a thunderstorm.

    Pete

    October 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    • That’s one of the more sizable internal divisions that’s being smoothed over by the focus on umbrella terms like “99%”; another is the basic disjuncture between liberals and the left / reformers and revolutionaries that always erupts whenever it seems like real change is possible.

      gerrycanavan

      October 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm


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