Income Inequality: A crib sheet for reporters

In all the hubbub of police marching in riot gear and protestors fleeing, reporters have been forgetting to tell us what’s at the heart of the matter for the Occupiers.

So, here’s a crib sheet for anyone writing about Occupy in coming year.

Income Inequality:  Occupy by the Numbers

Percentage of our nation’s wealth owned by the top 1% of earners:  33.8%

Percentage of U.S. wealth owned by the bottom 50% of Americans:  2.5%.

Percentage of investment assets (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) owned by top 1%:  over 50%

Percentage of investment assets owned by the bottom half:  0.5%

Percentage of the nation’s personal debt owed by the top 1% in the US:  5%

Percentage of the nation’s personal debt owed by the bottom 90% of Americans:  73%

Tax rate for highest income earners in 1944: 94%

Today: 35%

Between 1980 and 2005, percentage of all income gains that went to the top 1%:  80%

Percentage growth in real income for top 1% of earners since 1979:  275%

Percentage growth in real income for bottom 20% of earners since 1979:  18%

Last decade in U.S. history when the top 1% earned as high or higher a share of the national income as they do today (24%):  1920s

Last decade in which the super-elite (top .01% of earners) claimed a higher share:  Never

Percentage change in average CEO pay since 1990:  +300%

Percentage change in “production worker” pay since 1990: +4%

Last year when the purchasing power of U.S. federal minimum wage reached as low as it is today:  1955

Ratio of average worker’s income to top CEO salaries in 1970:  1 to 38

Today:  1 to 1,723

Amount of nation’s wealth controlled by the top 1% elite in Ancient Rome:  16%

Amount of nation’s wealth controlled by the top 1% elite in U.S. today:  40%

Fraction of U.S. public who think there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and large corporations in the U.S.: 3/4

Fraction of Americans who believed this in 1941:  3/5

Percentage of American millionaires who agree who agree that Occupy “protestors are making a good and valid point”: 35%

Percentage of U.S. Congress who are millionaires:  47%

Percentage of U.S. Senators who are millionaires:  66%

Ratio of Americans living below the poverty line:  1 in 7

Rank of U.S. among rich nations in the percentage of children living in poverty:  2nd (21.9%)

In 2010 alone, percentage change in average income among the 24 million poorest families in U.S.:  -10 %

Rank of U.S. among developed nations of the world in income inequality: 1st

Follow Jason Salzman in Twitter @bigmediablog

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