Census Bureau Confirms Growing Wealth Inequality

Saturday, August 23, 2014
(graphic: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

The federal government now confirms what others have said for a long time: the United States has a serious gap in wealth inequality.


Last decade, the median net worth of those in the top 40% of the country went up, while everyone else experienced a drop on average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. “The result was a widening wealth gap between those at the top and those in the middle and bottom of the net worth distribution,” the agency said in a press release.


The actual numbers are jaw dropping.


From 2000 to 2011, the median household net worth for the bottom 20% plunged by $5,124—while the richest 20%, the highest quintile, enjoyed a jump of $61,379.


Then there’s this: “Median net worth of households in the highest quintile was 39.8 times higher than the second lowest quintile in 2000, and it rose to 86.8 times higher in 2011.”

Agency experts said the growing inequality gap is happening to Americans of all stripes.


“For example, the median net worth for non-Hispanic whites in the highest quintile was 21.8 times higher than for those in the second-lowest quintile in 2000; in 2011, this had increased to 31.5 times higher. For blacks, the ratio increased from 139.9 to 328.1, and for Hispanics, the increase was from 158.4 to 220.9,” according to the bureau.


How old you are also helps determine whether you’re doing better or worse. Those aged 35 to 44 had the largest percentage decrease in net worth, 41.4%. The ages 65 to 69 really are the golden years; these seniors saw the largest percentage increase in net worth, going up by 25.9%.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Gap Between Higher- and Lower-Wealth Households Widens, Census Bureau Reports (U.S. Census Bureau)

Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S.: 2000 to 2011 (by Marina Vornovitsky, Alfred Gottschalck, and Adam Smith, Census Bureau)

Average American’s Net Worth has Dropped One-Third in 10 Years (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)


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