Inequality Statistics of the Month

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

The richest 5 percent of Americans, NYU economist Edward Wolff calculates, hold 63 percent of the nation’s wealth. The poorest 60 percent hold 3 percent of that wealth.

Low-income Americans give three times more of their income to charity, the Chronicle of Philanthropy estimates, than high-income Americans.

Between 2003 and 2012, new IRS stats show, the average income tax rate paid by America’s bottom 99 percent rose from 9.6 to 10.4 percent. In the same years, the tax rate paid by the top 0.001 percent — Americans making over $62 million in 2012 — fell from 20.6 to 17.6 percent.

Want a better shot at hitting a lottery windfall? Sit in a CEO’s office. The top 12 U.S. chief execs last year pulled in $654 million, USA Today reports, just $2 million shy of the world’s highest lottery jackpot, the $656 million three Mega Millions winners shared in 2012.

What we get when we let wealth concentrate: The median home price in San Francisco has now hit $1,225,000. The city, says a new Brookings study, has the nation’s fastest-growing income inequality.

Americans worth over $10 million constitute 0.01 percent of the nation’s population and 18 percent of political donors. Americans worth under $250,000 make up 69 percent of the nation and only 8 percent of donors.

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Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the online weekly on excess and inequality. He is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Last year, he played an active role on the team that generated The Nation magazine special issue on extreme inequality. That issue recently won the 2009 Hillman Prize for magazine journalism. Pizzigati’s latest book, Greed and Good: Understanding and Overcoming the Inequality that Limits Our Lives (Apex Press, 2004), won an “outstanding title” of the year ranking from the American Library Association’s Choice book review journal.

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