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What Americans Know About The Gap Between The Rich And The Poor

By Igor Volsky and Victoria Fleischer

The middle class is shrinking, while the earnings of higher-income Americans continue to grow. ThinkProgress Video took to the National Mall to find out if tourists know how bad it’s really gotten. Everyone we spoke with was shocked to learn that more than 90 percent of the income gains since the recession went to the top 1 percent of Americans or that an average CEO makes 373 times the income of the average American worker.

Transcript:

Igor Volsky: The middle class is shrinking and the incomes of top earners just keep going up.

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So we want to the National Mall to find out if tourists know how bad it’s really gotten.

It’s time to play…HOW BAD IS IT?

TEXT: How much of the economic gains seen since the recession went to the top 1%?

Man: like 60–70%?

Woman: mmm definitely around I would say like 40, 45 50? I would guess pretty high

Woman: I don’t know an exact percentage but I know it’s pretty high

Volsky: It’s 95%

Woman: Wow okay. I thought I was being generous with that. I wouldn’t be surprised, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Man: Wow, definitely, yeah. That’s surprising.

TEXT: How much more does an average CEO earn than an average worker?

Woman: Hmm…I would say at least 10 times more. Probably more than that.

Woman: Probably 30 times more?

Volsky: It’s 373 times more

Woman: Wow

Woman: Thats unfortunate.

Woman: That is crazy, actually.

Man: Shocking, for sure.

Woman: That’s really shocking. That really is shocking.

Volsky: Do you know what it was in 1980?

Woman: No.

Volsky: It was 42 times more.

Woman: Wow. Now there’s something wrong with that picture.

Woman: That’s a little too ridiculous.

Man: Obviously the CEOs are getting smarter then.

Man: I don’t think it’s going to change. Never. Unless there are no people on this planet, I don’t think they’re ever going to change. It’s always going to be like that.