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Rich Country / Poor People

The country has grown richer, a lot richer. Our total net worth, as reported by the Federal Reserve, and the WSJ graphic, has passed $92.8T. That’s Trillion, as in a “one” with 12 zeros. A trillion is also a million million, so $92.8T is $92.8 million times a million.

How many households are we talking? If we divide this huge treasure over the population, what are we worth, on average? Good question.







We are up to 119.03 million households in the US. When we divide, the result is $779,635.

As a country, this makes us pretty well off. The average family can own a paid-off house worth $235K, and still have $545K which, for retirees, can provide over $20K per year income. Combine this with another $20K in social security, for a couple, and the numbers still look good.

Not so fast.  The totals reported, the treasure of nearly $93 trillion dollars, fails to discuss one crucial factor, the distribution of this wealth.

CNN offered a look at how this wealth is distributed.

That leaves just 1% of the total pie for the entire bottom half of the population. Note that while that article was written in 2016, just before the election, it used data from 2013. The point remains, half are sharing just 1% of this wealth. I don’t have a solution, today I am just making an observation. The totals and the averages that are reported are meaningless without digging deeper. A $500K average doesn’t help when your family and 8 others have virtually nothing, but one family has $5M. Keep all this in mind when you see any articles that offer this type of news presented as if we are all somehow better off.

  • Kathy March 17, 2017, 1:48 pm

    All of your points are valid, but I would mention that even the lowest 1% in the U.S. is wealthy compared to most of the world. And in this country, I see people paying for their groceries with food stamps while an I-phone is sticking out of their pocket/purse.

  • Steve March 17, 2017, 5:41 pm

    Kathy, your point is valid that the bottom 50% in the US today are on average better off than the average person in the whole world. However you are misled by your own eyes if you think having a smartphone means someone is well off. http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2015/10/no-having-smartphone-doesnt-mean-youre-not-poor

  • Troy @ Market History March 23, 2017, 5:15 am

    I think this wealth disparity is why Trump was elected. A lot of people are just angry. While the economy has boomed since 1980, the average worker is no better off (in real terms, no nominal) than he was 30something years ago. I guess part of the problem is technology. It allows the haves to automate many things, lay off workers (cut costs) and reap the benefits for a select few.

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