Economic Update: Wealth Inequality

Part 4/5: The gap between the top 1% and everyone else in the U.S. continues to widen

While the bottom 50% have made some headway since the end of the Great Recession, the share garnered by the wealthiest has far outstripped everyone else. Heading into the pandemic, White families, in general, had significantly more wealth than Black, Hispanic and other or multiple race families.

At the pandemic’s onset (2019), the typical White family in America had eight times the wealth of the typical Black family and five times the wealth of the typical Hispanic family[i]:

Source: Federal Reserve Board, 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances.
Notes: Figures displays median (top panel) and mean (bottom panel) wealth by race and ethnicity, expressed in thousands of 2019 dollars.

Since the end of the Great Recession, the total net worth of the top 1% of households has grown an astounding $27 trillion. The 90-99th percentile gained another $27 trillion, and the 50-90th percentile, $19 trillion. The bottom 50% gained just $3 trillion overall.[ii]

Source: Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System

Put another way: of the total wealth gained by all groups since July 2009, the bottom 50 percent has gained 3.3%; the 50-90th percentile, 25.4%; the 90-99th percentile, 36%, and the top 1 percent, 35.3%.

Source: Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System

Previous: Part 3 – Workers’ Wages and Corporate Profits | Next: Part 5 – Inflation and Family Budgets

[i] Disparities in Wealth by Race and Ethnicity in the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/notes/feds-notes/disparities-in-wealth-by-race-and-ethnicity-in-the-2019-survey-of-consumer-finances-20200928.htm.

[ii] Calculations based on data provided by Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System, https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?graph_id=966046#0.

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