Who Are The 1%? And NYT Thoughts On Occupy Wall Street …

If you’re like me, you need to have things pounded into your head repeatedly in order to remember them.

With that in mind, I thought I’d once again share some info on income and wealth inequality — there is a big difference — in the United States via Catherine Rampell at the New York Times:

I received an e-mail over the weekend from a reader asking for some statistical context for the Occupy Wall Street protesters’ “99 Percent” rallying cry. Who exactly are the people in the top 1 percent of the economy? How much do they make, and how much are they worth?Here are some numbers:

American households right at the 99th percentile (that is, the cut-off for the top 1 percent) will earn about $506,553 in cash income this year, according to a Tax Policy Center analysis. The income curve is very steep at the high end, meaning that people just a few tenths of a percentile point above that make much, much more. A family at the 99.5th percentile, for example, makes $815,868; its neighbor at the 99.9th percentile makes more than double that, at $2,075,574 a year.

The top 1 percent of American earners receive about a fifth of the country’s income, according to Thomas Picketty and Emmanuel Saez, two economists who study inequality.

But as we’ve noted before, economic inequality isn’t just about what you make each year. It’s about how much wealth you have already accumulated, too. And inequality is far, far greater when you include wealth.

According to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization, the top 1 percent of Americans by net worth hold about a third of American wealth.

The average net worth for the 99th percentile in net worth was $19,167,600 as of 2007, based on this research. The average net worth of the next 9 percent of Americans was $2,371,500.

That means, of course, that the bottom 99 percent of Americans includes an awful lot of millionaires.

You should also take the time to read a recent New York Times editorial about the Occupy Wall Street protest. The insightful piece begins:

As the Occupy Wall Street protests spread from Lower Manhattan to Washington and other cities, the chattering classes keep complaining that the marchers lack a clear message and specific policy prescriptions. The message — and the solutions — should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention since the economy went into a recession that continues to sock the middle class while the rich have recovered and prospered. The problem is that no one in Washington has been listening.

At this point, protest is the message: income inequality is grinding down that middle class, increasing the ranks of the poor, and threatening to create a permanent underclass of able, willing but jobless people. On one level, the protesters, most of them young, are giving voice to a generation of lost opportunity.

Read the rest here.

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