America's wealth gap is getting wider

The wealthiest 10% of American households hold nearly 70% of all wealth.
Woman opens wallet
Posted at 8:57 AM, Jun 14, 2024

Two stories this week about wages highlight why the wealth gap in America may be more like a canyon.

First, at Waffle House, where CEO Joe Rogers III recently told employees that they're getting a raise, bumping the minimum base rate to $7.25 an hour by June 2027 for some locations.

With tips and bonuses, the hourly wage can go a few dollars higher. The news of a pay increase at Waffle House hits at the same time Tesla CEO Elon Musk thanked shareholders Thursday for approving his pay package worth $45 billion.

"I just want to say, hot damn I love you guys!" Musk told a cheering crowd at the Tesla shareholders meeting in Austin Texas.

The two companies may be apples and oranges, but the miles-wide gap between pay highlights a disparity that is getting wider.

The wealthiest 10% of American households hold nearly 70% of all wealth, according to the Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The bottom 50% of households hold only 2.5% of all wealth.

Education and race also play a role in the wealth gap. A family headed by a high school graduate earns $0.22 for every $1 a college graduate. Black families have about $0.23 for every $1 a White family has.

Researchers say the wealth gap contributes to more social segregation and inequalities in health and education.