Inequality Is Only Growing Worse

by Dish Staff

Net Worth

Drum flags new numbers that put that fact in stark relief:

[N]ew census data shows that when it comes to net worth—which is basically total wealth—the biggest change has been at the bottom. Even after taking some lumps immediately after the recession, the well-off had recovered and even made some gains by 2011. But the poor have been devastated. Their median net worth has always been pretty close to zero, but by 2011 it had plummeted to $-6,029. On average, poor families were in the hole to the tune of $6,000, an astronomical and completely debilitating number to someone with barely poverty-level earnings.

Badger’s analysis:

The Census data suggest that the wealth gap in America has widened over the past decade, regardless of how you slice it. The gap between the bottom and top quintiles in America has widened, as has the gap between blacks and whites, and between workers with only a high school degree and those with much more. This implies that the returns to higher education in America are growing (in 2000, households headed by someone with a bachelor’s degree were worth 2.4 times as much as those with only a high school diploma; by 2011 the ratio was 3.4). And racial inequality in wealth is growing, too (in 2000, white households had a net worth 10.6 times larger than blacks; by 2011 it was 17.5).

Danielle Kurtzleben observes that the report “also found that the median net worth of the top 20 percent divided by the median of the second 20 percent was 39.8 in 2000. Today, it’s 86.8.”