The Federal Reserve released the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances yesterday. The overall wealth distribution picture is grim and getting worse:
The top 10% of families own 75.3% of the nation’s wealth. The bottom half of families own 1.1% of it. The families squished in between those two groups own 24.6% of the national wealth.
The present wealth distribution is more unequal than it was in 2010, the last year this survey was conducted. Specifically, the top 10% increased their share of the national wealth by 0.8 percentage points between 2010 and 2013. The bottom half and middle 40% saw their share of the national wealth fall by 0.1 and 0.7 percentage points respectively.
These wealth figures bring to mind a 1955 Red Scare era educational film, which presses at one point:
In order to have a proper appreciation of the American economic system, we must know how the national income is divided in America. In other words, we must examine the distribution of the great wealth produced through the operation of American capitalism.
Is the distribution widespread or is the wealth of America concentrated in the hands of the few, as the socialists and communists say?
Racial Wealth Gap
The overall distribution of wealth is troubling. So is the racial wealth distribution.
Here is mean family wealth broken down by race:
The mean white family has a net worth of $679k. The mean Latinx✊🏿 family has a net worth of $112k. The mean Black✊🏿 family has a net worth of $95k.
Here is median family wealth broken down by race:
The median white family has a net worth of $134k. The median Latinx✊🏿 family has a net worth of $14k. The median Black✊🏿 family has a net worth of $11k.
white families hold 90% of the national wealth. Latinx✊🏿 families hold 2.3% of the national wealth. Black✊🏿 families hold 2.6% of the national wealth. The remaining 5.1% of the national wealth is held by others (natives, Asians✊🏾, Pacific Islanders✊🏾, multi-racials✊🏾, etc.).
With few exceptions, whites own America.
Just as wealth is heavily concentrated nationally, it is also heavily concentrated within racial groups, especially among whites.
The bottom 32.1% of white families have an average net worth of $0.
Here is the distributive breakdown of white wealth among whites:
The top 10% of white families own 72.3% of all white wealth. The bottom half of white families own 2.2% of all white wealth. The remaining white families (those in the 50th to 90th percentiles) own the remaining 25.5% of white wealth.
This means that the top 10% of white families own 65.1% of all the wealth in the nation. The bottom half of white families own just 2% of the national wealth. And the white families in the 50th-90th percentile of white families own 22.9% of the national wealth.
All white families have more wealth than non-whites✊🏿, but it is really the upper half of whites—and especially the top 10% of whites—who own nearly everything.
Let’s build a world where we strike back at these hoarders. Let’s build socialism.