America's top 1% have done well. Their share of the nation's wealth has doubled in 30 years, while the middle class has been hammered. But, not all 1-percenters are the same. $383,000 a year is the sort of money some in the top 1% make in a fraction of that time.
More than 1 in 10 American households (estimated at 12%) will for at least one year find themselves in the top 1%.
That doesn't mean it's a common experience—1 in 10 aren't great odds.
But, while it's a clear indication of the brokenness of our economic system that the top 1% have nearly 40% of the nation's wealth, the mind-bogglingly out-sized gains in wealth that have occurred in the last decade or so have been accomplished most strikingly by the ultra-rich, often gaining wealth from their wealth pretty effortlessly via investment income—and with the help of the experts and services they easily afford and some fiscal and tax polices that help them, too.
Most of the top 1% have actually seen the rate of their wealth increase slow. Don't misunderstand: they're still incredibly well off. But, the charts below show how the top 0.1% and 0.01% have done extraordinarily better than even the rest of the top 1%.
We're living in an age of wealth inequality that is getting worse and is concentrating ever more wealth at the top of the top.
The Atlantic, "How You, I, and Everyone Got the Top 1% Wrong", March 2014. (See charts below.)
Forbes, "The Richest of the Rich Get Richer", June 2014.
The New York Times, "What Percent Are You?" January 2012.
(Click chart for enlarged view.)
(Click chart to enlarger it.)