A new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reveals that economic inequality is growing in the United States, with the bottom half of all households holding just 1 percent of all wealth.
The report, “An Analysis of the Distribution of Wealth Across Households, 1989-2010,” was released on Tuesday. It found that the share of the nation’s wealth held by the less wealthy half of US households plunged after the recent financial crisis to just 1.1 percent, down from a paltry but much higher 3.6 percent in 1995.
On the other end of the economic spectrum, the share of the nation’s net worth held by the richest 1 percent of American households has steadily risen, reaching 34.5 percent in 2010. The top 10 percent of most affluent households held 74.5 percent of the wealth.
Tellingly, the mean US household net worth– the total value of all wealth divided by the number of households– was a very healthy $498,800 in 2010. However, the median household net worth– the figure at which half of all households have more and half have less– was $77,300. In other words, the richest households have so much wealth that the average net worth in America is 6.5 times as much as the median household.
“A mean over six times a median suggests substantial concentration of wealth among households at the upper end of the wealth distribution,” the report explains.
The report also revealed that the share of wealth held by the 10 percent of richest households rose in the period 1989-2010. But for everyone else, their share decreased.
This report is but the latest in a series of alarming indicators of growing economic inequality in America:
* The gap between rich and poor is growing at an alarming rate. While the top 1 percent’s share of the nation’s wealth has soared 275 percent in the last 30 years, the bottom 20 percent’s share grew by only 18 percent. If the nation’s wealth were a pie, the top 1 percent’s piece has more than doubled in size since 1979, while the bottom 20 percent’s piece has actually shrunk by more than a quarter.
* As a result, the US now ranks 73rd in global income equality, just below Turkmenistan and just above Senegal. The per capita annual incomes of those two countries, respectively, are $1,706 and $1,080.
* Nearly 1 in 6 Americans— 46.2 million people– are living in poverty.
* More than a third of young families are living in poverty, the highest level ever recorded.
* More than 1 in 5 US children is living in poverty. Among Hispanic and black children, that figure rises to a staggering 32 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
* Half of the nation’s population lives in a household receiving some sort of government benefits.
* Nearly 1 in 7 American– some 43 million people— use food stamps.
* Nearly half of all American live in households that are struggling to make ends meet.
* According to a recent UC Berkeley study, the richest 1 percent of Americans account for nearly all gains achieved during the economic ‘recovery.’