As a student of history, I know that there have always been those that have and those that have not, in just about every time period and throughout the world.
So, the results of a recent study results are not as striking to me as they were to others, despite how gigantic the numbers seem.
In 2018, it is estimated by the Fed that Americans owned $114 trillion of assets. This includes $26 trillion of housing and real estate, $26 trillion of pensions (such as 401(k) accounts and other qualified dollars), $22 trillion of corporate stocks and mutual funds, and $6 trillion of durable goods (vehicles, appliances, furniture, etc.).
Liabilities comprised mostly mortgages and consumer credit; which totaled about $15 trillion, leaving net worth at nearly $100 trillion.
The study estimates that in 2018, the net worth of the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans represented 70 percent of household wealth, up from 61 percent in 1989, the study’s first year. Even among the elite, wealth became more concentrated. Over the same years, the share of the top 1 percent went from 24 percent to 31 percent.
The IRS calculates the Top 10% of earners to have around $150,000 in AGI (adjusted gross income), the bottom 42-47% of filers typically pay no federal income taxes. The study has the bottom 50 percent of U.S. households had virtually no net worth. This the difference between assets and liabilities, mainly loans. Their wealth share tumbled from 4 percent of total wealth in 1989 to 1 percent in 2018.
At present no one completely understands the surge in economic inequality of the past three decades. I personally believe that the erosion is coming from the hidden taxes of our society, such as constant governmental increases in property taxes, gas taxes and fees (license plates, city stickers, permits of all kinds). These go up and the impact is greatest on those at the bottom levels. Illinois is notorious for increasing these taxes and stating that they are working for the poor to make things better, when they are deliberately making them worse.