From the 80s to today, the top 1 percent gain trillions, while the rest lose billions

"Between 1989 and 2018, the top 1 percent increased its total net worth by $21 trillion."

Image Credit: Total Immersion Swimming

It’s no secret that wage inequality in the United States has reached an all-time high. But a new analysis by Matt Bruenig from the People’s Policy Project revealed an “eye-popping statistic” that “between 1989 and 2018, the top 1 percent increased its total net worth by $21 trillion.” And the bottom 50 percent’s net worth decreased by $900 billion within that same time frame.

Bruenig used the Distributive Financial Accounts, a new data series released by the Federal Reserve that combines the Financial Accounts and the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) to determine wealth distribution in America on a quarterly basis.

Bruenig derived this by taking “the nominal net worth aggregates for each wealth group that are provided by the Federal Reserve and subtract out consumer durables,” such as cars and other personal possessions.

The top 1 percent owns around 32x as many consumer durables (in dollar terms) as the bottom 50 percent owns. So the subtraction of them reduces the inequality between the top 1 percent and bottom 50 percent.

His final revelation determined that the top 1 percent own close to $30 trillion of assets leaving the bottom half with debt rather than assets.

This follows from 30 years in which the top 1 percent massively grew their net worth while the bottom half saw a slight decline in its net worth.


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