Sorry not to have current statistics at my fingertips - but following is a post from another board that culls domestic data from Z magazine:
Currents.310.1346: Richard Clark (cardo) Thu, 03 Jun 1999 12:46:52 CDT (77 lines)
Over the last decade or so, as we all know, the stock market has
boomed and the wealth of that small percentage of us who own most of
the stock has grown immensely. This growth in the stock market is
based primarily on the large growth in American productivity over the
last 30 or 40 years, i.e. the growth in how much the average worker
produces in any given period of time. Yet even though the average
worker is producing much more in an hour or a day than he did 15 or 20
years ago, the real buying power of most workers has _not_ gone up.
In fact it has declined. Consider the following statistics, gathered
by Holly Sklar, Chuck Collins and Betsy Leondar-Wright for their
recent (May '99) article in Z Magazine:
1. Business productivity grew by 33% between 1973 and 1998
2. In spite of this, most households have lower inflation-adjusted net
worth now than they did in 1983 when the Dow was still at 1000.
3. However, since the 1970s, the top 1% of households have _doubled_
their share of the national wealth, taking it from 20% to 40%. (These
folks in the top 1% now have more wealth than the bottom 95%.)
4. Adjusted for inflation, the net worth of the household in the
middle of the spread (i.e. the median household) fell from $54,000 in
1989 to $49,900 in 1997. Median financial wealth (i.e. net worth
minus the value of any house a family might own) fell from $13,000 to
$11,700 over the same period.
5. The percentage of households with zero or negative net worth (i.e.
greater debts than assets) increased from 15.5% in 1983, to 18.5% in
1995. (This represents nearly a fifth of all households. That's
nearly double the rate in 1962 when less than 10% of all households
had greater debts than assets.)
6. The net worth of the poorest fifth of households was, on average,
minus $5,600 in 1997. ($5,600 in debt). Compare that to 14 years
earlier, in 1983, when the average indebtedness among the poorest
fifth of households was only $3,000.
7. Those who managed to have $10,000 in the stock market in 1983 saw
that $10,000 turn into an average of $143,000 over the next 15 years,
while a million dollars (in S&P 500 index stocks) turned into $14.4
million. Meanwhile, the incomes of most of the workers (who helped
make that huge growth possible) actually declined. Over the same
period, median household net worth fell by 11%. (The bottom 40% of
households lost an incredible _80%_ of their net worth.)
8. While home ownership rates have slowly risen in recent years, this
is due to the fact that so many home owners (from a worker-affluent
era) are living longer. Home ownership rates among those _under_ the
age of 55 have in fact fallen.
To what can we attribute these huge and growing gaps in income and net
1. A steady transfer of American jobs overseas to dirt-cheap workers
in low wage countries.
2. A huge and steady supply of immigrants from poor countries who bid
down the wages of American workers.
3. Legislators who have seen to it that the real buying power of the
legally mandated minimum wage has steadily fallen. (Adjusted for
inflation, the minimum wage fell by nearly 20% between 1979 and 1998.)
4. An 80% reduction in federal funding for low-income housing between
1978 and 1991. (Meanwhile there have been huge mortgage interest tax
subsidies (i.e. housing subsidies) for those making $100,000 per year
So, what if the bulk of the benefits from rising productivity had
_not_ been funneled into the pockets of the privileged? i.e., what if
wages across the board had kept rising with worker productivity, as
they certainly should have? If this had happened, the average hourly
wage in 1998 would have been $18.10, rather than the $12.77 that it
was. The hourly wage growth would have been $5.33 rather than the
measly 30 cents that it was, and the average worker would have
pocketed $11,000 more each year than he did.
Sounds like those in the Up elavator continue to talk amongst themselves, oblivious of those on the stairways going down.