Sequoia Shirley Blog 3

The Gap Between the Rich and the Poor is Widening in the United States

The wealthiest 20 percent of households own 95 percent of all financial assets, the data show.

Gilbert describes wealth as “the value of assets held at a certain point in time.” The distribution of wealth in America is growing larger, but only among the top 20 percent of households who own about 95 percent of the wealth. Much of the wealth that was lost during the recession has been regained, but only by the few; making success more difficult to reach as those with financial assets and real estate have gathered their riches, while leaving the bottom still at the bottom.

What does this mean for the middle-class? Most of their wealth is based on home ownership, and because the rate at which people own a home is decreasing (69.2 percent to 65.4 percent), they have not had an opportunity to build their wealth.

The median household income for the United States from 2007 to 2011 has dropped from $54,909 to $50,502. Some places, like Detroit, have experienced an even greater drop ($30,412 to $25,193). However, the economy as a whole is slowly improving because people are saving more than they are spending, and the economy is learning to do more with less money. This means that there will be slightly more opportunities for wealth, but only for those that already have some of it; widening the gap between the rich and the poor. It will be more difficult for people as a whole to gather wealth in the future. This pattern in the American economy demonstrates how the meritocracy assertion is not valid, and people cannot “gather themselves up from their bootstraps” as easily as was once stated.


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