Typical Household Net Worth Plunges Since 1983; Wealth Gap Grows

The median U.S. household net worth plunged to $57,000 in 2010, down from $73,000 in 1983, the latest chapter in a decades-long trend of wealth inequality.
These are some of the findings in a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a think-tank with left-leaning views on economic issues.
The median household net worth would have been $119,000 “had wealth grown equally across households,” the group said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the top 1 percent of Americans saw their average wealth grow to $16.4 million, up from $9.6 million in 1983.
For a more historical perspective, the report gives this analysis: 50 years ago, the top 1 percent had 125 times the net worth of the median household. That figure rocketed to 288 times by 2010.
“The State of Working America, 12th Edition” asserts that economic policies, including U.S. policymakers’ actions and failures to act, have undercut the ability of workers to benefit from economic growth in the United States.
Here are some of the group’s findings:
• The wages of typical Americans, including college graduates, are lower today than they have been in over a decade. Because hourly wages and compensation failed to grow after the 2001 recession, household incomes had declined even before the current Great Recession.
• Income and wage inequality have risen sharply over the last 30 years. This trend has been driven by a growing concentration of both capital income (the returns on financial assets) and labor income (wages and benefits), as well as a shift from labor income toward capital income.
• Higher earners have reaped a disproportionate share of wage income, and the top one percent of households have received a disproportionate share of all income growth. Aside from the period of strong growth in the late-1990s, wages for low-and middle-wage workers were stagnant from 1979 to 2007, and incomes for lower- and middle-class households grew slowly.

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