Inequality in America is getting worse. The gap between the “haves” and “have nots” is widening.
The rich are money-making machines. Today, the top mega wealthy — the top 1% — earn an average of $1.3 million a year. It’s more than three times as much as the 1980s, when the rich “only” made $428,000, on average. Today the top 1% take home more than 20% of all U.S. income.
Meanwhile, the bottom 50% of the American population earned an average of $16,000 in pre-tax income in 1980. That hasn’t changed in over three decades. The bottom 50% went from capturing over 20% of national income for much of the 1970s to earning barely 12% today.
After-tax income shows that the bottom 50% averaged just $25,000 a person in 2014, according to the latest data. That’s just a touch above the $20,000 someone in the bottom half earned way back in 1974 (after adjusting for inflation).
“Income has boomed at the top: in 1980, top 1% adults earned on average 27 times more than bottom 50% adults, while they earn 81 times more today,” write Piketty, Saez and Zucman.
As if that’s not depressing enough, living the American Dream is also getting harder to do. Millennials, born in the 1980s, only have a 50% likelihood — a coin toss chance — of earning more money than their parents did, according to new research released this month from the Equality of Opportunity Project. “Children’s prospects of achieving the ‘American Dream’ of earning more than their parents have fallen from 90% to 50% over the past half century,” the researchers wrote in their report.