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Inequality Between America's Rich and Poor Is at a 30-Year High

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economic inequality at 30 yr. highThere are many ways to compare finances, but perhaps a more holistic measure of financial health looks at household wealth, a comparison of what a family’s assets (home, cars, investments and bank accounts) are worth, versus what they owe. And when it comes to wealth, or net worth, the gap between the richest Americans and everyone else is at an historic high.

For the most part, it’s not necessarily that the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. Instead, the data shows that while the rich are seeing their assets grow and increase in value, the middle and lower-classes are seeing financial stagnation, creating a growing economic gulf.

According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, which analyzed data from the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of upper-class families was almost seven-times as large as middle-class families: $639,400 compared to $96,500. That’s the largest the gap has been in the 30 years the Federal Reserve has been collecting such data. In 2007, right before the Great Recession, upper-class households had wealth that was about 4.6 times that of the middle class. In 1995, the gap was even smaller—with median, upper-class net worth equaling about 3.6 times as much as their median, middle-class counterparts.

The wealth discrepancy between upper-class and lower-class is also at its widest point in three decades, with lower-class families having a median net worth that is 70 times lower than the median net worth of upper-class families.


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