business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The New York Times this morning reports on a new study by the Pew Research Center saying that "the wealth gap between the country’s top 20 percent of earners and the rest of America had stretched to its widest point in at least three decades.

"Last year, the median net worth of upper-income families reached $639,400, nearly seven times as much of those in the middle, and nearly 70 times the level of those at the bottom of the income ladder."

The story notes that the wealth gap and income inequality (which gets a lot more attention, especially in the political world) are related but not the same thing. Income refers to wages, while wealth encompasses all of one's assets accumulated over time. "While those at the top have managed to recoup much of the wealth lost during the economic downturn," the Times writes, "middle-income families have not made any gains."

The Times goes on to say that "the report on Wednesday is the second in recent days from Pew detailing how different groups of Americans are faring financially more than five years after the recession ended. The earlier study found a growing racial and ethnic wealth gap, with whites registering a median wealth of nearly $142,000, 13 times the net worth of blacks and 10 times that of Hispanics. The evidence from the report, Pew said, 'could help explain why, by other measures, the majority of Americans are not feeling the impact of the economic recovery, despite an improvement in the unemployment rate, stock market and housing prices'."

Indeed, there was a poll a few weeks ago that revealed that the public is more pessimistic even than it was at the beginning of the Great Recession about the ability to work hard and become rich - to achieve the American dream.

Sobering numbers, I think. They all have an impact on marketers who are looking for ways to grow their businesses and sell their products. And they are an Eye-Opener.
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