The Rich Get Richer While Everyone Else Gets Poorer

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It's not just the poor getting poorer: 93 percent of American households became worse off as the economic recovery began.

From 2009 – 2011, the top 7 percent of Americans in terms of net worth became wealthier by 28 percent, while the remaining 93 percent of Americans became poorer by 4 percent.

That works out to the bottom 93 percent losing a little more than $6,000 on average, and the wealthiest gaining nearly $700,000 on average, a new Pew Research Center report says.

In total, that’s an estimated decline of $600 billion for the bottom 93 percent, and an estimated gain of $5.6 trillion for the top 7 percent.

The main reason? The wealthiest Americans have more of their money in stocks and other financial assets, while the less affluent have more of their wealth tied up in their home. From 2009 – 2011, housing prices declined by 5 percent and stocks, as measured by the S&P 500, rose 34 percent. (The S&P has risen an additional 26 percent since, Pew says, but data on wealth for 2012 and 2013 aren’t available yet.)

The report is based on Census Bureau data, which also chose the 93/7 threshold. Dollar figures were adjusted for inflation. The full report digs much deeper into the fluctuations in asset value for 2009-2011 and breaks down net worth ranges into easy-to-understand groups such as “$25,000 to $49,999.”

Stacy Johnson

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