Pew Research Center Confirms Widening Income Gap In America

The gap between affluent and middle class Americans grew significantly during the recession, according to a new report released by the Pew Research Center in Washington.  Richard Fry, the author of the report, says his worst fears were confirmed by the study.

Pew surveyed approximately 119 million households across the US, measuring income and net worth.  The research found that of 8 million households whose net worth ranged between $500,000 and $3.2 million, income increased 30 percent from 2009 to 2011.  On the other hand, net worth in the remaining 111 million households declined to approximately $134,000. 

Fry suggests part of the decline can be explained by the millions of lost middle-income jobs during and following the recession.  Even more telling is the strong recovery in the stock market compared to the delayed recovery in the housing market.

The stock market hit bottom near the beginning of 2009, but recovered most of its losses over the next few years.  Americans with money to invest in the stock market benefitted from the recovery with notable returns on their investments after only 18 months.  Unfortunately the housing market deflated for years, and is only now in full recovery mode.  Millions of homes lost value during the housing crisis, and these homeowners are paying for mortgages worth more than their homes are actually worth.

Fry believes his findings could reignite the angry sentiments expressed by millions of Americans during the Occupy Wall Street Movement: that the elite 1 percent benefitted at the expense of the remaining 99 percent.