In 1974 the top 0.1 percent of American families enjoyed 2.7 percent of all income in the country. By 2007 this same tiny slice of the population had increased its holdings to fully 12.3 percent—roughly five times as great a piece of the pie as it had enjoyed just three decades earlier. Half the U.S. population owns barely 2 percent of its wealth, putting the United States near Rwanda and Uganda and below such nations as pre-Arab Spring Tunisia and Egypt when measured by degrees of income inequality.
Over one in five American children is living in poverty, and the number is rising. By the end of 2010, corporate profits rose by fully 15 percent of the economic pie—their biggest share of the economy since such statistics became available nearly 70 years earlier—while the share going to workers’ wages dropped to their lowest level in the same period and fell below 50 percent of national income for the first time.