THE WEALTH GAP: A Look at the Fastest-Growing Socioeconomic Rift in America

stock-footage-stacks-of-money-falling-and-filling-the-screen-w-luma-matteAlthough there’s lots of noise about the growing wealth gap between the rich and poor, that isn’t the fastest-growing money rift in America. It’s between those who are merely rich and the super rich.

I know, break out the violins.

From an economic perspective, the most dramatic wealth gap is between middling millionaires, who have seen only modest gains, and the booming billionaires, who now seem to defy economic gravity. It’s between the guy making $300,000, who still feels poor, and the man who made $37 million a day for a year. Both are lumped together by politicians, the media and even economists as “the rich” or “the 1 percent,” who are gaining at the expense of everyone else.

But a new study by a top economist gives us the clearest picture to date of the wealth gap among the wealthy. Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who is a leading expert on top incomes, and Gabriel Zucman, assistant professor at the London School of Economics and a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, found that the top 1 percent is really two groups.

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First, there are those at the bottom of the 1 percent. Those are folks who are worth single-digit millions, around $7 million or so as of the latest Fed survey. The people between the top 1 to 0.5 percent have seen their share of national wealth remain flat for the past 20 years.

Their share of the wealth pie is the essentially the same as it was in 1995.

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