Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

United States wealth gap

"Meanwhile, the Walton family of Walmart has a net worth of $144 billion. This is what a rigged economy looks like," wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). (Photo: Jason Hargrove/Flickr/cc)

'What a Rigged Economy Looks Like': Top 10% Now Own 77% of American Wealth

As Trump and the GOP push massive tax cuts for the rich, new data shows that the wealthy are doing better than ever

Jake Johnson

As President Donald Trump and the Republican Party unveiled their "cruel joke" of a tax plan that would provide an enormous boon for the rich disguised as a "middle class miracle," an analysis by the People's Policy Project (3P) published Wednesday found that the top 10 percent of the income distribution now owns a "stunning" 77 percent of America's wealth while those in the bottom ten percent are "net debtors," owning -0.5 percent of the nation's wealth.

"We do not live in a democracy. We live in an oligarchy."
—Digital Left
In response to the analysis, conducted by 3P president Matt Bruenig, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote on Twitter: "Meanwhile, the Walton family of Walmart has a net worth of $144 billion. This is what a rigged economy looks like."

"We do not live in a democracy. We live in an oligarchy," added the progressive group Digital Left.

3P's examination of newly released Federal Reserve data also found that "[t]he bottom 38 percent of American families have an average net worth of $0." By contrast, the top one percent—set to benefit massively from Trump's tax agenda—owns 38.5 percent of the nation's wealth. In 1989, that number was 29.9 percent.

(Image credit: People's Policy Project)

The new Fed data also highlighted America's enormous racial wealth gap.

A recent study conducted by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and the Corporation For Economic Development (CFED) found that "[i]f average black family wealth continues to grow at the same pace it has over the past three decades, it would take black families 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth white families have today."

"For the average Latino family," the study found, "it would take 84 years."

Bruenig notes that in 2016, mean white wealth exceeded $900,000 for the first time. Mean black wealth, by contrast, registered at just under $140,000.

Overall, Bruenig concluded, "[t]he median family in every racial group remains worse off than they were in 2007."

(Image credit: People's Policy Project)

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Nebraska Mother, Daughter Face Abortion Charges After Facebook Shares Chats With Police

"Until Meta gives up surveilling private messages and begins protecting its users with end-to-end encryption, it remains complicit in the surveillance and criminalization of pregnant people," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


Trump Spews 'Tirade of Same Old Lies' But Pleads the Fifth in New York AG Probe

Noting the ex-president once said that "only guilty people and mobsters plead the Fifth," a Democratic congressman said that "today he proved the point."

Brett Wilkins ·


Becca Balint, Backed by Bernie Sanders, Wins Vermont US House Primary

"This was only possible because of people from every corner of Vermont who banded together to work and vote for a brighter future," said the victorious candidate.

Kenny Stancil ·


Top Economists Hail Chilean Constitution as 'New Global Standard' on Climate, Inequality

"The world has much to learn from the exemplary process of the convention and the visionary product on which Chile will vote in its September plebiscite."

Jake Johnson ·


Ilhan Omar Fends Off Primary Challenger Boosted by Right-Wing PAC Money

"Ilhan Omar has faced some of the ugliest attacks of any elected official and had hundreds of thousands of dollars spent against her," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "Despite this, she won her primary once again."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo