Record US Income Inequality In One Chart

Tyler Durden's picture

It is well-known that US wealth inequality is now at record spreads, thanks to five (and counting) years of Fed-mediated wealth transfer from the poor and middle class to the superrich (while placating the lower social strata with distracting welfare trinkets and EBT). Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the following chart courtesy of just released data by the Social Security administration showing the net compensation breakdown by income bucket for America's 153.6 million workers.

As an aside, in 2012 the average wage was $42,498.21, while the median one was far lower, ot $27,519.10.

But that is a broad average. Narrowing the data down, is what we have done in the chart below which shows that in 2012, the poorest 23.3 million working Americans, who earned between $0.01 and $4,999.99 at  an average net comp of $2,024.79, earned a total of $47.2 billion. And on the other end, we looked at the richest 2,915 Americans who earned $10 million or over in the past year, an average of $22 million per worker, and cumulatively, some $64.3 billion.

In brief: in the past year, the poorest 23.3 million Americans earned 36% less than the richest 2,915 Americans (and less than twice more than the richest 166). Needless to say, this excludes wealth from capital and asset appreciation, usually a benefit reserved exclusively for the latter; it also excludes the amount of taxes paid by either of these two income extremes.

Source: Social Security

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Critical Path's picture

Just another mile marker on the road to serfdom

outamyeffinway's picture

These charts don't matter until AFTER the revolution.

Dr. Engali's picture

You are dreaming. There will be no revolution. TPTB have done a great job of dividing the country. If it does finally erupt it will be in the form of an uncivil war. There is no way in hell that the reds and the blues get together to root out the real criminals.

Widowmaker's picture

Maybe in the city where the clueless and flacid print money for themselves. Revolution is individual.  

If a cop points a weapon at Widowmaker for no reason you won't read about it in the news.  (shhhh.)

National [in]security has muddied the water with real masters vs. rentals. If laws don't apply to authority, nothing does to anyone.


zaphod's picture

So I am confused?

Half of ZH articles rail on about how lazy and uneducated americans are and how they won't work and prefer to stay on government benefits.

The other half of ZH articles rail on about how the bottom segments of the US make no money compared to the rich and how unfair that is.

Seems to me that if you have large segments of a society unwilling to work, that they probably aren't going to make too much money.

The thing to focus on is the erosion of the middle class. These are the people trying to work hard and save money and do well for their families, but are getting raped by the system.

HulkHogan's picture

I'm confused by your confusion.

odatruf's picture

I get zaphod's point entirely, and it really is the central question we ought to be thinking about:

Are those at the bottom there because they are lazy or because someone is keeping a boot on their necks?  Similarly, are those at the top there because they worked hard / were innovators / otherwise earned it or because a corrupt system has been created and maintained to keep them there?

Your answers here should significantly shape your world view.

czardas's picture

I'm not sure who all these posters think is going to revolt.  My neighbors are disgruntled by the debt and administration but the last thing they want is chaos, anarchy and violence.  The near majority who get by via State handouts certainly do not want a revolution.  They would be clueless with more money, never having planned, invested or saved. The super-rich are just fine - no revolt for them, thank you.  Most democrats affirm undying allengiance to huge, authoritarian bureaucracies so mark them off.   

What if they gave a Revolution and nobody showed up?

DaddyO's picture

Good Observation, but let me add that most in your neighborhood are waiting for someone else to hit the reset button before they engage...

Just look at guns and ammo sales over the past 3 years.


czardas's picture

I continue to insist that the best preparation for future problems is rural land and close neighbors - not guns. I can't actually see myself holding up in a fortress week after week wardng off roving bands of starving madmen or motorcycle ganga while downing noodles.  Worse, no one could stand up to the military or the militarized police if they wanted what you had.  Besides, I no longer think a quick collapse is probable.  The Fed and the government have become near geniuses in deflecting, obfuscating, ignoring, rerouting and squashing problems.  Most likely we face a long, slow denouement. 

DaddyO's picture

Given the current world position of the Petrodollar, your view has merit.

Let the dollar collapse or become one of many other acceptable currencies and all bets are off...


TheReplacement's picture

Who says it will start from the bottom?  Perhaps the TPTB will eventually decide to simply force the issue due to civil resistance (people not paying taxes, not cooperating, or some other unforeseen disturbance).

B2u's picture

Yeah...but the poorest get food stamps, Obamacare and Obama it evens out...

onewayticket2's picture

and none of the liability, either. 

last month alone, we put $409,000,000,000.00 of debt on the books....half of america will never be responsible for a dime.  if there was a chart of responsibility to pay for these debts (to pay for stuff going TO the column on the left as you point out) it would be almost entirely in the Right column....


hankwil74's picture

Nobody is really on the hook. All you have to do is leave the country and you're debt free.

onewayticket2's picture

true, but then i'm paying Juan Valdez' bar tab.  which is worse?  the trick is getting out of the 1% and into the bottom 50% where everything's free and there's no liability.  isnt that what Dear Leader wants?  equality of outcome - so we're all in the 50th percentile?

TheReplacement's picture

Or we can nullify it.  They (our supposed representatives) have borrowed for their own purposes, not ours.  As such, all of this debt is illegitimate.  Or better, we define the criminal class and hang the debt on them as individuals and institutions (private). 

We just have to take power first.  That's really the hard part.

Dr. Engali's picture

Ppfffffttt who cares? The important thing is that them damn gays don't get married.

Widowmaker's picture

Damn right, the only things that matter on Earth are fag marrage, abortion, smoking dope and fucking the taxpayer.

With priorities like this -- sustainability is inevitable!

Running On Bingo Fuel's picture

I have a GOD given right to prosperity! I'm 'merican. Now where's that fucking 'easy' button.


Rainman's picture

Uber rich Murikans will obviously need to spend moar on private security and barbed wire ...think of South Africa and being surrounded.

UpAndComing's picture

It'll be a very long journey till it has to come to that. "Murikans get their thoughts from the TV. As long as the TV is on, the sheeple are docile and obedient.

Canoe Driver's picture

Full time workers don't earn $2000 per year. The chart needs to be adjusted so only full-time workers are reflected.

r101958's picture

Here is another side; If you confiscated all of the income of both of these groups you would still only net 3% of what the government spends each year. Hmmmm.....

Rainman's picture

...and it also amounts to less than 60 days of Bennybux printing.

LetThemEatRand's picture

That is a false argument.  Income is irrelevant. It is total assets that matter.  A tiny percent of the population owns most of the world's assets.   Their "income" is minimal compared to their assets.  But Rush likes your point about income because it distracts from this simple truth that we're being fucked by a few thousand families, most of whom inherited their wealth from the royal great grandparents.

r101958's picture

It wasn't really an argument. Only a sad fact. There are way too many here that still insist on continuing on with the left vs right paradigm. It is folly. It is a distraction and meant to divide (and most certainly conquer).

LetThemEatRand's picture

So you are saying it is not a fact that a few thousand people control the majority of real assets in the the world, or that you are okay with it because you see it as a Red Team/Blue Team issue?

bozzy's picture

Income is NOT irrelevant.

When all the rents are owned by the banksters and super rich, the only way for the "middle class" to stand a chance to survive is to keep firmly within the system thereby exploiting entitlements, and move every scrap of wealth to hard assets. Inflation not seen as a problem but the "cost" of QE is so perceived? That has to tell you there is no  magic dust. Meanwhile money remains so cheap that its use has no value, yet the freshly printed billions remain firmly at the disposal of the banksters and very few others.

Socially, the west should be looking to the Baltic rather than to the obscene American "Dream". The compression of income scales in Sweden for example, or Norway should be examined carefully in a society where a banker who is lobbed a USD 10m bonus regards it as his or her natural reward for being so smart/aggressive/talented etc etc, and regards a refuse collector as a lower social order. Does anyone really think that the American way is better?

Sack the lying propagandising administration, fork the marionette regulators, and CRANE the all-gaming bankster scum.

aardvarkk's picture

I've never viewed the "American Dream" as a banker getting a huge bonus.  To me, it's the ability to, if I should so choose, go as far as I can without government interference so long as I don't hurt someone else.  I've never disparaged a garbage man or anyone else.  A year and a half ago I was driving taxi after a long run as a software engineer.  Now I'm a software engineer again.  Who knows what I'll decide to be doing 5 years from now?  I've always wanted to run a business.  Maybe I'll finally do that.  If I can get there, that's the "American Dream".  I could give two shits about the status of the guy I'll need to be paying my building's rent to, either.  Banker or corporation or some guy who used to run a business in that building, it just doesn't matter.

I'm not interested in Sweden or Norway other than as an intellectual exercise.  They have a way of doing things that works for them and that's a good thing.  But trying to transplant it to the US (or China or South Africa or anywhere else where they don't have a lot of umlauts in their writing) is a mistake and a waste of time.

So yes, for Americans I do believe that, overall, the American way is better.

All that said, yes, by all means sack the lying administration, kill 90% of the regulations and keep an eye on the giant financers.  There is nothing uniquely American about lying, libraries of regulations or giant financial pigs and I have no attachment to any of them.

RaceToTheBottom's picture

Mr Aardvarkk, I admire your positive attitude.

birdsonthebat's picture

Rand, your comments are, IMO, dead-on. I registered just to make that comment. Seems like everyone needs to learn to stop worrying and love the financial bomb. First comment. Now I'm on the Big Board.

Widowmaker's picture



(No one will see it coming!)

Homo Erectus's picture

in the past year, the poorest 23.3 million Americans earned 36% less than the richest 2,915 Americans

I think the real headline here is that the richest Americans, on average, earned 11,000 times more than the poorest. The Bernank should be proud.

q99x2's picture

3000 targets for the banksters to go after as they take down America.

A lot easier for them now that the money has been removed from the others.

EscapeKey's picture

We need more QE to help the poor.

DeliciousSteak's picture

If the poor aren't happy they should just earn money. If the 2,915 can do it, so can you!

EscapeKey's picture

You, too, can be born into wealth.

Take my 6-stage crash course on effective wealth managerment, at the humble price of $2,995/session, and I will show you what it takes to become a modern day tycoon.


moneybots's picture

"If the poor aren't happy they should just earn money. If the 2,915 can do it, so can you!"


Only 2,915 out of 300 million.  The chances of winning the California lottery are 23 million to 1. 


The poor are earning money.  I suggest you get out and take a look around.

Darkman17's picture

The market is just telling us we need more rich people (or whatever made them such) and less poor people (or whatever made them as such).

roadhazard's picture

" The poor need to get a job and quit whining. Oh yeah, and stop asking for food stamps " ~ any right winger

DaddyO's picture

Remarkable comment coming from someone using the no bullshit symbol...


Dr. Engali's picture

roadhazard is on team blue. He still hasn't figured out that both teams are out to fuck all of us. He'll get it sooner or later.

bozzy's picture

Just a chance roadhazard was being ironic? But - what you say - red, blue - who cares? It is just a distraction to keep the slaves from the pitchforks cranes and roadblocks which follow the all pervasive official lies as surely as the sun also rises.

roadhazard's picture

roadhazard plays for his own team. You see, I agree things are fucked up but I can pick and choose where wingers have to toe a Party line at there peril. I can tell a winger when they start talking red and blue team only to people that don't sound 100% red team.

roadhazard's picture

No, not remarkable, just factual.

jmcadg's picture

How would JPMorgan make a god damn profit? Come on, sort your life out!

aardvarkk's picture

Anybody who uses the term "right winger" or "left winger" has not fully thought things through.  I was left until about 2000...then I flipped and was right until the last few years.  I'm still guilty of reflexively disparaging "lefties" from time to time...but you've gotta wake up, man.

I don't share the incredible fatalism that infects so many around here, but they're right about the left/right red/blue thing not mattering.  Pick your positions based on issues, not on what team you want to support.

All that said, yes, many of the poor DO need to get a job, and less whining would be welcome.  It would also be nice if some of the rich would stop endlessly whining about taxes.  But who's rich?  Someone who makes $75,000?  $100,000?  $1,000,000?  To someone who makes $20,000, "rich" could mean $50,000.  Who's to say?  How much does it matter?

One sign that we're on the right track will be if more people spend more time reflectively thinking things like this through and less time spouting off on blogs.  And that includes me.