February 11, 2015 10:11 pm

Income Inequality in America: By the Numbers

For as long as I can remember, one of the biggest hot-button issues in this country has been the staggering inequality between how much is made by the top one percent and the remaining 99. Supporting advocates against it are the numbers, all of which show that not only is this gap wide, it is just getting wider. Let’s take a look at each category this includes, as well as the values of each.

From the period of 1913 to 2012, the percentages for the top one percent’s share in overall pre-tax income has fluctuated wildly. In 1913, the top dogs held approximately 17 percent of the share. This would rise to close to 25 percent in 1918, after which a severe drop caused by the Great Depression would sink it to around 15 percent.

From 1943 to around 1980, these numbers would sink even further, hovering around the 10 percent mark. However, beginning in 1983, these numbers would shoot back up, ultimately culminating in the over 20 percent it hovers at today.

Actual income is only one of the areas that solidify any contention that the rich get richer, while the poor continue their inexorable slide. The amount of growth in income over the years actually provides a better example.

Starting at the beginning of the second World War, the bottom 99 percent experienced sharp growth, with a cumulative percent change in income growing by about 200 percent. Unfortunately, this trend would end with the oil shock in 1973, resulting in a leveling off that would extend to today. The top one percent however, now rests at an excess of 600 percent of inflation-adjusted growth.

While those are the primary figures of importance, there are others that are just as damning:

  • Starting last year, the poorest 23 million Americans made less than the top 3,000. Not just by a hair either, with the poorest earning around $47 billion and the richest making an excess of $64 billion.
  • It takes a McDonald’s employee around seven months to make what their CEO makes in a single hour! Starbucks comes in second at six months per CEO hour.
  • The average white family makes around six times more than their black or Hispanic counterparts. This can easily be justified by that fact that over 98 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are white.

As you can see, the inequality between the super rich and the dismally poor is astounding and only looks to get worse. Do you have a suggestion that might help bridge this gap? Let us know in the Comments section below!