The American wealth pyramid—you know, the one with a broad working class at the base, a solid middle class in, well, the middle, and a few rich people at the tip? These days it’s looking more and more like Seattle’s Space Needle. And Americans are feeling it. The last four decades have seen the ranks of the middle class thin as the cost of healthcare, tuition, housing, and childcare have increased faster than inflation. It’s not surprising we’re seeing so much anger and resentment driving our politics this election cycle: just look at the data.
Yes, the US economy is growing (albeit slowly). But not every American’s bank account is growing with it. Upper income earners are pocketing a disproportional amount of the economy’s gains. Pay for CEOs has increased at an astronomical rate compared to that of the average worker. Currently, the 20 richest American families possess more wealth than half of the American population. Have America’s rich become that much more productive than everyone else?
On the positive side, the latest reports from the US Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that median family income has finally reached pre-Recession rates, and that the US economy is creating jobs. Still, as you can see in the video above, lower and upper income Americans are becoming increasingly polarized classes. Meanwhile, the middle is getting squeezed. The American electorate this year has shown itself to be more dramatically polarized than ever. To understand why, you don’t have to look much further than Americans’ bank balances.
This article was syndicated from wired.com