A Look at the Nation’s Most Affluent by Sydney Beveridge
With the Occupy Wall Street protest bringing attention to “the other 99 percent,” the spotlight has also turned to the wealthiest Americans. In the New York Times article “As the Data Show, There’s a Reason the Wall Street Protesters Chose New York,” Sam Roberts explains that “the megarich hold more of the nation’s wealth and collect more of the overall income today than at any time since right before the Great Depression.” He cites Social Explorer’s Andrew Beveridge:
Certainly, the protesters picked the right city in which to start their campaign. Among the 1 percent of American households with the highest income, a significant portion, 13 percent, live in the New York metropolitan area, with 4.4 percent living in Manhattan, according to an analysis by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College. In three Manhattan neighborhoods, the Upper East and Upper West Sides and Greenwich Village, more than 11 percent of the households make enough to qualify for the top 1 percent.
The related article “Top Earners Doubled Share of Nation’s Income, Study Finds,” details findings by the Congressional Budget Office about gains made by the country’s top earners.
Social Explorer tools and resources allow for further examination of the most affluent Americans. From unpublished detailed American Community Survey (ACS) data for the years 2005-2009 (not yet available in Social Explorer), the top 1 percent of households earned at least $394,600, compared to no more $12,282 for the bottom 10 percent or no more than $132,836 for the bottom 90%. (These figures are adjusted to 2010 dollars.)
With the current state of the economy, it is likely that the latest data will show a decline in these numbers. Still, the super-affluent are much, much richer than the quite well off.
The published tables in the ACS provide detailed annual data on income for the top 5 percent of earners. Using the ACS data already available in Social Explorer, we examined this elite population in the US, New York City, Manhattan and Washington, DC. (All income figures adjusted to 2010 dollars.)
The census recently started blocking certain detailed data on the income threshold for top income earner when that threshold was more than $250,001. However, we can still look at the mean income of this group both before and after the recession.
A graph of this data shows the strong earning power in the borough of Manhattan, as well as the impact of the recession. Nationwide, mean income for the top five percent remained relatively stable, while in Manhattan it experienced bigger ups and downs.
Mean Income for Top 5 Percent of Earners
Using Social Explorer’s maps, users can also see where high earners live.
Manhattan Map of Households Earning Over $200,000 per year (2005-09 American Community Survey)
For more on the bottom of the 99 percent, read the recent New York Times articles on the nation’s poorest community and the county that suffered the most since the recession (both cited Social Explorer data and analysis).