Small businesses in Danville, Illinois, are still reeling from the shock of the recession. AP Images

Wealth among high-income households is growing, while the middle-class is stuck in the 1990s.

The fact that America's richest households are financially head and shoulders above everyone else isn't exactly news, but now, it seems, the gap between them and the middle-class is the widest it's been since the Federal Reserve began collecting data 30 years ago. Yes, the Pew Research Center has found that in 2013, the median wealth of rich families was 6.6 times that of middle-income families, and 70 times that of low-income households. Since 1983, the upper tier has doubled its median wealth.

High-income families are almost 7 times richer than middle-income families. (Pew Research Center)

While high-income households have been climbing steadily up the wealth ladder over the last three years, the middle-class is in an economic rut. Middle-income households have been paralyzed since the recession, unable for to make up for what was lost. (Middle- and low-income household wealth fell by around 40 percent in 2007, while median wealth of the upper tier declined by 17 percent—so the rich didn't have as much catching up to do). Between 2010 and 2013, America's high-income households have raised their median wealth by an average of $44,000, while middle-income wealth has remained stagnant.

Rich are getting richer, while the middle class is standing still. (Pew Research Center)

This explains why, despite added jobs and better earnings reports, a majority of Americans are still not cheery about the economy—the middle-class and low-income population (and especially, racial and ethnic minorities) have yet to really start their recoveries. Their wealth has receded to early 1990s-levels, and so far, it's staying there.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    There’s a Tile Theft Epidemic in Lisbon

    With a single azulejo fetching hundreds of euros at the city’s more reputable antique stores, these tiles, sitting there out in the open, are easy pickings.

  2. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  3. Design

    The Curious Politics of a Montreal Mega-Mall

    The car-dependent suburb it’ll be built in wants to greenlight Royalmount against the city government’s wishes but it needs them to pay for the public infrastructure.

  4. Multicolored maps of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tampa, denoting neighborhood fragmentation
    Equity

    Urban Neighborhoods, Once Distinct by Race and Class, Are Blurring

    Yet in cities, affluent white neighborhoods and high-poverty black ones are outliers, resisting the fragmentation shown with other types of neighborhoods.

  5. A photo of a new subdivision under construction in South Jordan, Utah.
    Perspective

    A Red-State Take on a YIMBY Housing Bill

    Utah’s SB 34, aimed at increasing the state’s supply of affordable housing, may hold lessons for booming cities of the Mountain West, and beyond.