Why the Rich Get Richer: A Story in Stats & Charts

These stats were reported in multiple sources between 2007 and 2011.

• In 1988, the income of an average American taxpayer was $33,400, adjusted for inflation. Fast forward 20 years, and not much had changed: The average income was still just $33,000 in 2008, according to IRS data.

• 216K new jobs were created in March 2011…

• Out of 216K new jobs, nearly half are in the services sector. 29K are in temp work.

•    In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.

•    The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America’s corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

• 6.3 percent of the U.S. population is currently living in poverty, according to USA Today. One percent of the U.S. population has experienced homelessness.

•    In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

This chart shows job recovery after past recessions versus today…

•    More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.

•    For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

•    This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

• A group called Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) has developed a formula that suggests the average single worker needs to earn $30,012 a year – nearly twice the federal minimum wage – to cover basic expenses. Single parents require nearly twice the income ($57,756) to support two children, while dual-income households with children require $67,920. (source)

• CEO bonuses at 50 major corporations jumped a median of 30.5%, the bigest gain in at least three years, according to a study of the first batch of corporate pay disclosures by consulting firm Hay Group for The Wall Street Journal. (source)

• The 10 “highest-paid CEO layoff leaders” ranked in the report include the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Mark Hurd, who earned $24.2 million in 2009 as the company laid off 6,400 workers and Walmart CEO Michael Duke, who earned $19.2 million as the company laid off 13,350 workers. (source)

CEOs’ pay as a multiple of the average worker’s pay, 1960-2007

•    61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

•    For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

•    83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people (source)

•    66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

•    36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.

•    43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.

•    24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

•    Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.

•    Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

•    In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

•    As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

•    The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

•    Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

•    Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.

•    Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

•    The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.

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2 thoughts on “Why the Rich Get Richer: A Story in Stats & Charts”

  1. I just wanted to correct you in that federal workers do NOT earn more than private sector employees in the same field. Please see http://afgetruthsquad.com/ for more info. Also, employees in federal positions usually have a bachelor's or higher degree, which should mean higher pay, since the people with higher degrees have more education.

    It's very sad that people have had to push off retirement and that other can't afford to save. We need to redistribute the wealth, so that the people that are making BILLIONS each year don't get quite as much and that money goes to the people of the country that need it. While we're at it, let's make a standard that pharmaceutical companies cannot be for-profit, set a maximum price for the drugs they invent! 🙂

  2. Always distressing to see stats like this. I especially don't like to see the CEO stats. In my opinion, it isn't THAT hard to be a CEO. Each level up the power chain is a quantum leap in pay, yet is the job that much more valuable? No. In fact, it's almost less valuable. CEOs are more and more removed from the day-to-day, they become disconnected. They don't even know their businesses anymore most of the time. Their time is spent marketing the stock, keeping high level tabs on things, and setting high level goals for others to figure out how to implement. I'm not saying it's simple, but it's not 100 times as hard as the guy who puts together the widgets. That unfairness is because CEOs and the boards who they negotiate with are all in the same boat, so they of course favour themselves and unfortunately they have the power to set their own collective salaries. You could find good CEOs for fractions of the money they spend, for what is often a poor CEO.

    In a way, it doesn't matter that the income goes to the top. They spend all the money anyway. It goes to something, Invested in businesses or consumption. The money circulates. You need low level workers also, although I would hope that those would be young people who learn and get experience to move up to higher levels in their older years.
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