Last year, Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist at the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, found that as of 2007, the Walton family — heirs to the Walmart fortune — had a net worth equal to that of the bottom 30 percent of Americans. And due to the effects of the Great Recession that ratio has gotten substantially worse.
New Federal Reserve data analyzed by both Allegretto and Josn Bivens at the Economic Policy Institute shows that the Waltons now hold as much wealth as the bottom 40 percent of Americans combined:
Concretely, between 2007 and 2010, while median family wealth fell by 38.8 percent, the wealth of the Walton family members rose from $73.3 billion to $89.5 billion…In 2007, it was reported that the Walton family wealth was as large as the bottom 35 million families in the wealth distribution combined, or 30.5 percent of all American families.
And in 2010, as the Walton’s wealth has risen and most other Americans’ wealth declined, it is now the case that the Walton family wealth is as large as the bottom 48.8 million families in the wealth distribution (constituting 41.5 percent of all American families) combined.
Allegretto charted the change in wealth over the 2007–2010 period:
At the same time that the Waltons have amassed an ever larger fortune, Congress decided to cut the estate tax, a policy for which the Waltons have been pushing for years. And now that the estate tax cut is in place, conservatives are doing everything they can to ensure it doesn’t go away, allowing the Waltons to amass even larger amounts of wealth.