American households right at the 99th percentile (that is, the cut-off for the top 1 percent) will earn about $506,553 in cash income this year, according to a Tax Policy Center analysis. The income curve is very steep at the high end, meaning that people just a few tenths of a percentile point above that make much, much more. A family at the 99.5th percentile, for example, makes $815,868; its neighbor at the 99.9th percentile makes more than double that, at $2,075,574 a year.
The top 1 percent of American earners receive about a fifth of the country’s income, according to Thomas Picketty and Emmanuel Saez, two economists who study inequality.
But as we’ve noted before, economic inequality isn’t just about what you make each year. It’s about how much wealth you have already accumulated, too. And inequality is far, far greater when you include wealth.
According to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization, the top 1 percent of Americans by net worth hold about a third of American wealth.