The Occupy Wall Street protests began in New York City as a way to bring attention to America’s increasing income inequality and the vast power held by corporations and the nation’s biggest banks. Currently, income inequality in the U.S. is the worst its been since the 1920s, and is even more unequal in New York City itself.
– The bottom half of the city’s income distribution has 9% of total income; the bottom 80%, 29%. Comparable figures for the U.S. are 19% for the bottom half and 44% for the bottom four-fifths.
— The richest 10% of New Yorkers have 58% of total income, and the richest 5%, 49%. The national average is 42% for the top 10%, and 32% for the top 5%.
— And here’s where the action is, the proverbial 1%: it has 34% of total income, compared with 19% for the U.S. as a whole.
The fact that New York City is the epicenter of the U.S. financial services industry — which now makes up a bigger portion of the economy than it did before the Great Recession — surely drives a lot of this divide. A new Pew Research poll out today finds that “61% of Americans now say the economic system in this country unfairly favors the wealthy,” while 77 percent “say that they think there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and large corporations.”