The American dream is alive and well for the wealthiest 1% of Americans, but unfortunately, if you are in the other 99% the jury is still out.
"America is obviously a country where you can go from being middle class to upper class, but right now class mobility has sort of collapsed in the United States," says Zaid Jilani, senior reporter for the progressive think tank ThinkProgress.org. (See: America's Middle Class Crisis: The Sobering Facts)
This grim reality is in part the impetus for the Occupy Wall Street movement, which, now in its fourth week, will take to the streets of Manhattan's Upper East Side Tuesday in what it is calling the "Millionaire's March." Demonstrators will rally outside the homes of some of the city's wealthiest, including News Corp. (NWS) head Rupert Murdoch and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon, to protest New York state's 2% millionaire tax set to expire at the end of the year.
As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow, The Daily Ticker wanted to find out just how rich America's super-rich 1% really is. Jilani recently compiled the following research, entitled How Unequal We Are: The Top 5 Facts You Should Know About The Wealthiest One Percent of Americans.
As discussed in the accompanying interview, here's what Jilani outlined on his blog:
#1) The Top 1% Owns 40% of the Nation's Wealth:
Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz points out the richest 1% of Americans now own 40% of the nation's wealth. This disparity is much worse than it was in the past, as just 25 years ago the top 1% owned 33% of national wealth.
How much does the bottom 80% own? Only 7%.
#2) The Top 1% Take Home 24% of National Income:
While the richest 1% of Americans take home almost a quarter of national income today, in 1976 they took home just 9% -- meaning their share of the national income pool has nearly tripled in roughly three decades.
#3) The Top 1% Own Half of the Country's Stocks, Bonds and Mutual Funds: The Institute for Policy Studies illustrates this massive disparity in financial investment ownership, noting that the bottom 50% of Americans own only 0.5% of these investments.
#4) The Top 1% of Americans Have Only 5% of the Nation's Personal Debt:
Using 2007 figures, sociologist William Domhoff points out that the top 1% have 5% of the nation's personal debt while the bottom 90% have 73% of total debt.
#5) The Top 1% Are Taking In More off the Nation's Income Than at Any Other Time Since the 1920s: Not only are the wealthiest 1% of Americans taking home a tremendous portion of the national income, but their share of this income is greater than at any other time since the Great Depression, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities illustrates in this chart, using 2007 data.
Watch the video for more of Jilani's thoughts, and then tell us what you think!