American Wealth Inequality Expressed As A Pie

The gap between rich and poor in America is the worst it’s been in more than a half century. It’s a concern cited by every leading Democratic presidential candidate in the 2020 election, but many may not realize what it actually means.

If a pie represented the estimated $98 trillion of household wealth in the United States, nine pieces, or 90% of the pie, would go to the wealthiest 20% in the country, according to a National Bureau Of Economic Research study of household wealth trends in the united states from 1962 to 2016. Out of those nine slices, four would go to just the top 1%.

The upper middle class and the middle class would share one piece, or about 10%, and the lower middle class would get .3% of the pie. The poorest Americans, people in the bottom 20%, wouldn’t get any. On average, they are more than $6,000 in debt.

People presented with this image of the country’s wealth distribution were surprised.

Beberlee Maldonado said it wasn’t what she expected and called it “disturbing.”

“It’s very sad. It’s very depressing,” Jessica Ortiz told “CBS This Morning” co-host Tony Dokoupil, adding that she grew up in the poorest category.

In the 2020 election cycle, Democratic candidates Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have promised to redistribute the pie with a special tax on fortunes $50 million and up.

“The wealthiest people in this country will start paying their fair share of taxes,” Sanders said on the campaign trail in May.

Polls show most Americans support the idea. Asked if she thinks there should be an extra tax on the super wealthy, Maldonado said, “Why not? They could afford it.”

“They should,” said another woman, Adriane Huff. “Will it happen? Probably not.”