Economic Snapshot | Wages, Incomes, and Wealth

Wealth inequality is vast and growing

See Snapshots Archive.SWA 2006/2007

This week’s Snapshot previews data to be presented as part of the forthcoming The State of Working America 2006/07.

Snapshot for August 23, 2006.

Wealth inequality is vast and growing

by Sylvia Allegretto with research assistance from Rob Gray

The 10th edition of The State of Working America will be released on Labor Day weekend. This biennial publication presents a comprehensive and historical analysis of the living standards of Americans. A recurring theme, which became more pronounced with this edition, is increasing inequality. Inequality in the United States is on the rise, whether measured in terms of wages, family incomes, or wealth and is much higher than that of other advanced countries.

The ratio of the wealthiest 1% to median wealth in the United States

The figure is one such measure of inequality—the ratio of the wealth of the richest 1% to that of a household with typical wealth in the middle. As the figure indicates, wealth inequality has not only persisted, but also grown much larger over time. The richest 1% of wealth holders had 125 times the wealth of the typical household in 1962; by 2004 they had 190 times as much or $14.8 million in wealth for the upper 1% compared to just $82,000 for the household in the middle fifth of wealth.

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